It is challenging at the best of times to deal with all the grief associated with the death of a loved one. It is doubly so during this health crisis. Here are some of the reasons why;
- Our loved one may have died alone.
- The cremation or burial could not be done as we planned because of social distancing.
- We have to delay gathering together in person to grieve.
- It was more challenging making the funeral arrangements.
- I am angry at the heath care system or long-term care home for their policies.
- I had planned to be with my loved one when they passed and couldn’t be because of the virus.
Many of us have private ideas in our heads about how things should go when a loved one is dying, dies, and then the funeral or cremation. Some of us have the ideas laid out in the form of an end of life plan, and some have already made the funeral arrangements and paid for them. No matter what your situation, having a loved one die during this time of social distancing changed all of this in an instant.
Now we have a bunch of other grief to process as well as the death of the one we loved.
- We have the grief associated with our loved one dying alone and our not being able to be with them. This is sometimes compounded with anger at the situation and guilt for not being there for them.
- The plans we had for a funeral, a cremation, and a ceremony is different now. Whether we acknowledge it or not we are now grieving the loss of our ‘normal’ ways of saying farewell.
- We can’t even gather together the way we used to and now it feels like we are doing it all alone, without the support of friends and relatives. We are now grieving the loss physical support in the form of hugs and handshakes.
- Making funeral arrangements is hard at the best of times but now making them by phone or email made it all even worse.
- There may be a feeling of anger at the virus, the care home or the hospital for keeping us away from our loved one while they were dying. This anger or upset is real and it too complicates our grief process.
- I had promised to be there for my Dad when he died and I couldn’t be. No matter the circumstances I feel guilty for not keeping my promise.
So each of these complications needs to be sorted through, acknowledged, and processed for what they are in order that we may have a clean slate on which we can process our natural, normal, and human grief. In a way separating all the ingredients of the double-whammy of grief and handling them one item at a time.
What you could do is notice which of the six examples listed above applies to you and make a list in your journal or on a piece of paper.
Then, beside each item write down how you feel about it as fully as you can. No matter what the emotion express it in the form of words and even a picture or a scribble of color.
Finally, share your list with someone you know will understand you and listen well to you when share. Unwinding the extra grief complications in this simple way will enable you to get in touch with your grief linked directly to the death of your loved one and process it without the interference of the emotional noise created by the corona virus.