During the global coronavirus pandemic, there are many people who are facing the tragic loss of life and it is clear under very difficult circumstances.

“Everyone’s emotions are being challenged with the current situation”, says Alison Blackler from Wirral-based 2minds, so adding a loss to this could leave people in a very vulnerable place.

It will be very normal to be in an emotional place and bouncing between feeling anger, wanting to run away, and freezing and not know what to do. These can be moment by moment and taking care must be the first place to start.

Alison explains that the lock down will mean that bereaved people are likely to have to deal with increased trauma and may be cut off from some of their usual support network.

Those who are already struggling with bereavement, or whose relatives or friends die through other causes will also be affected.

Losing a loved one is an emotional and difficult time under normal circumstances. This situation leads to other factors which we don’t normally need to deal with, so losing someone during this time is particularly hard for family and friends to deal with.

This is someone who has died of Coronavirus and equally someone who dies of other causes.

The social distancing means that family members are not able to spend time with someone who is dying, or to say goodbye in person. 

Depending on the person, the illness may have progressed and become serious very quickly, which can lead to feelings of shock.

If they were not able to be present for the death and cannot view the body, it may be difficult to accept the reality of a bereavement. 

The current restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic mean many people are unable to attend funerals, cremations, and wakes. This is a very distressing reality for thousands of people currently.

Different families will mark the occasion in the best way for them, although it is obvious this will not be what they would have wanted.

At times of considerable trauma and grief, it is normal for a person to look for certainty to help settle themselves. In these times, certainty is not there, and this can amplify any feelings of sadness and distress.

As the media is full of stories highlighting the traumatic nature of death, this will be very upsetting for a bereaved person or family. There will be some who have witnessed distressing scenes directly and this can lead to trauma.

The isolation we are experiencing can make feelings of loneliness and grief much more intense. It could mean having to stay alone in the same house they shared with the person who has died, bringing up painful reminders at every turn.

They might be isolated together with other members of the family, and although this at times may be a support, at other times tensions and resentments can be magnified making it difficult to help each other.

How you can help yourself

Talking things through with friends and family can be very comforting. This can be done remotely if you or they are isolating. Thankfully, we have many different technical modes of communication, although for many none will substitute for a physical hug.

If you are feeling very distressed, share your feelings with someone you trust. If feelings persist your GP is usually the first port of call for access to more specialist services. At the present time there may be some additional delays here if GPs are under pressure from the pandemic. You can also contact Cruse for advice on the next steps.

Alison shares a very simple Mental Health Check List, although says that the most basic approaches are usually the best

  1. Rest when you need too
  2. Get into nature and the fresh air
  3. Call people, particularly when you feel lonely
  4. Eat well
  5. Be kind to yourself

How you can help another person

Try to stay in contact with bereaved friends and family (even if you cannot visit in person if you or they are isolating).  Let them talk about how they are feeling and about the person who has died – talking can be one of the most helpful things after someone dies.

If you are worried that they are experiencing very severe symptoms or flashbacks you could suggest they contact Cruse or their GP for further advice and support.