08 May 2020 / Counselling

Grief & Isolation

This is a post about Grief. It will take 3 minutes to read and is to help those of you reading who have lost those dear to you or for people you know who have.

Many people across the country are obviously facing a tragic loss of life during this Global Coronavirus Pandemic, often under very difficult circumstances. Those who have lost loved ones are having to deal with increased trauma and may be cut off from the people who would normally help them – their support network. Those people who are already struggling with bereavement or whose relatives or friends die through other causes will be affected. There are many different situations and emotions that bereaved people have to deal with.

Grieving & Isolation

The current Coronavirus Crisis is a very strange and distressing time to be isolated and grieving. Being bereaved can be one of the loneliest experiences that you or those you love have ever gone through. Talking with friends and family can be one of the most helpful ways to cope after someone close to us dies. Also by spending time with other people and to avoid isolating yourself from other people if possible would be the conventional advice but of course the current crisis means that isolating ourselves is necessary to prevent many more people being bereaved.

Isolation can accentuate feelings of loneliness and grief; it can make them much more intense. You may have to stay by yourself in the same house that you shared with the person who has passed away, therefore bringing back lots of painful reminders. You may be isolated with family members and although this may provide support at times, there may be tensions and resentments that arise and are magnified, therefore making it difficult to help each other. Feelings of loneliness and grief can therefore be more intense.

You may have to stay by yourself in the same house you shared with the person who has passed away or you might be isolated together with your family. This may provide support but there may be tensions and resentments that can be magnified, making it very difficult at times to support each other. Your children & teenagers might be isolated with you and trying to keep them occupied, whilst dealing with your own emotions and fears can seem daunting. Having to deal with bereavement, whilst having worries about external situations can mean that feelings of grief aren’t fully expressed.

Being in isolation can also make it harder to process grief. News outlets are full of new and distressing information and whilst you are watching and listening to all this news you can find yourself distracted from dealing with your grief. You might be worrying about others, about yourself and the situation throughout the UK and the World as a whole. You may have all the practical considerations and concerns to cope with as the person who passed away may have been a partner, parent or carer and you’ve been left without the practical or emotional support you need at the time when it is most required. Due to isolating, friends and relatives who might otherwise have been able to provide the practical support you need are unfortunately unable because they are preoccupied with their own family’s situation.

How Can You Help Yourself?

You may be alone physically but you don’t have to be alone with your grief. Texting your family and friends is important. You might find that some of them don’t respond in the way that you hoped but this can be because of their own fears and the current situation. They could be feeling helpless because they want to ‘fix’ your grief but can’t. Having someone to call in the middle of the night or to have someone you can share stories with about the person who has died is maybe what you need and being able to explain that to them if you can is important.

There are organisations that provide help lines that you can call, such as Cruse Bereavement Care – 0808 808 1677.

Getting rest and looking after you is vital. It is natural to want to hide away and at the moment we’re being encouraged to do that but getting some fresh air and sunlight, with the resulting benefits of Vitamin D can help your state of mind. If you’re able to, go for a walk or run, do some exercise in your home because our physical health can help our mental health as we know.

Having some structure is vital and trying to keep to some sort of routine of getting up, getting dressed and eating regular meals is important. It will all help you, even slightly. Your appetite might be affected but having something to eat is vital to help you cope and keep well. There may be days when you have more energy and the grief doesn’t feel as all-consuming as it can be. Some people can feel guilty when this occurs but is is natural so it’s important to not feel angry or guilty with yourself if you can.

Reaching out to others who know and understand you can help; maybe friends, family or neighbours. It can be common to hear, see or feel the presence of someone who has died. You may worry if that happens but it does happen, particularly in the case of traumatic bereavement. Also if someone is isolated in a location where they saw the person die or where they have constant reminders of their illness.

How Can You Help People That Are Bereaved?

It’s natural to not know how to help and support people that have endured bereavement. That bereavement might have occurred a long time ago but the recent uncertainty has caused old feelings to return. This is a time of great uncertainty, fear and anxiety. People may be struggling more than usual but you can help them by being yourself; being the partner, friend, daughter, son, colleague they love is all you need to be. Being present with someone in their grief is certainly not easy but is a vital gift that you can give to someone you care about.
Keep in contact, via telephone, video or text and let then talk about how they are feeling and about the person who has died. Letting them talk and for you to listen can be so helpful. You may find it difficult but there are resources online that can help you.

After someone has passed away it’s common for bereaved people to want to go over events leading up to the death, often several times. Being there to listen to them can be hard but they will appreciate you listening to them talk about the person who has died, telling you stories and feeling that they can cry and express their feelings. It will provide great comfort to them.
You can’t fix their pain but you can help them feel less lonely, by allowing them to talk. Giving them time to share their feelings is a wonderful help to people.
You’ll be able to offer more practical help with practical tasks and arrangements as time goes by. Offer specific help rather than a more general offer of help because they might feel that they are a burden and/or just cannot think systematically or logically.

Looking After Yourself

Helping someone else with their grief may bring up difficult feelings from your own bereavements, which is natural and normal. You may never have lost someone close to you but may be understandably fearful that it might happen. It’s important that you have people that you can talk to about how you are feeling too. Self-care is vital for you too. You must, in order to help others, look after your physical and mental well-being as well.

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