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Because family life matters

Social distancing and grief

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This period of social distancing and associated restrictions, necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has created many challenges to our normal way of life.  And we are all grieving the loss of many things we have quite rightly taken for granted.  This creates inconveniences, anxieties and tensions for all of us that are of course challenging in many ways.

But for those who have already lost or are facing the imminent loss of a loved one during this period the impact on their grieving and mourning is compounded. Grief can make you feel isolated in normal circumstances. Physical distancing and the restrictions make this more intense. It is a very sad fact that grieving and mourning in ways that people are accustomed are just not possible at this time.

The restrictions now placed on visiting hospitals and care homes, attending chapels of rest and funeral services are compounding the pain of loss. But it is heartening to see how creative social media is being used to keep people connected and help alleviate the increased pain and distress caused by social distancing.

The role of the Hospital and Hospice Chaplains is often overlooked.  Yet it is so important at this time as they minister to those dying and their families in their time of need.  It is heartening to read that many clergy are training up to assist in this too. They can offer much needed support to both staff and families both pre and post death, whilst keeping social distancing guidelines in place. They could be the conduit to your loved one before they die. From personal experience, back in 2007, I gained some solace from knowing that the Hospital Chaplain had visited my first wife Joanne, every day in the week before she died, to provide comfort, kindness and a listening ear from a person who had become a trusted friend.

Once the funeral is over it is important for the grievers to have connections with trusted friends and family in some way. The majority of us are relational people and need each other in our lives.  It’s so important to talk and cry with one another.  So in the absence of a hug or face to face contact, be proactive and connect with family and friends.  Whether it be in old ways such as a telephone call, text, a card or newer ways such as video messaging or face time.

Most hospitals and hospices have a Bereavement Services Office to help relatives and carers when a patient has died. They will give guidance on the necessary practical aspects following the death of a loved one.

Many bereavement support organisations offer a telephone helpline. At Care for the Family we offer this too, plus befriending services and online Facebook groups.

Please don’t try to do this on your own.  There is help for you out there from the many bereavement support organisations.  As well as us at Care for the Family.

Some suggestions if your loved one is sick and/or near to the point of death:

  • Whilst non-visitation policies still apply in hospitals, hospices and other such places, legislation at the time of writing allows discretionary visitation in certain circumstances so it is worth checking their current policy with the relevant institution. If visiting is permitted, you will need to wear appropriate protection.
  • Video call your loved one if they are able to receive this. The nursing staff may be able to help facilitate this call.
  • If allowed, send in a family photograph or something that means a lot to them which connects them to you. Then call them on a mobile phone if possible. The nursing/hospital staff may be able to facilitate this.
  • Record a message or messages and ask the nursing staff to play them the audio recording.
  • Send a link to a favourite song and have it played to them.
  • Write a letter to your loved one, even if it can’t be accepted by the hospital staff.
  • Message them by text, WhatsApp, Messenger or iMessage
  • Make contact with the Chaplain. They may be the conduit to your loved one.

When you can’t visit someone who is ill

Support after the death of a loved one (Covid-19)

It’s important to talk about what has happened and express your feelings, otherwise it may lead to increased feelings of isolation, loneliness and distress.

Even though you may be on your own in self-isolation it is important to connect with support workers, family and friends.  Social media and video conferencing allows for this very well and you may be able to look at photographs together, talk about the person who has died, talk about your feelings and emotions.  Remember the things that made you smile and perhaps plan a future memorial service together.

Grief during self isolation

AtaLoss.org is a charitable movement of people across the UK who are passionate about enabling the bereaved to receive the support that they need – in easing the pain together. Here is a link to a helpful web page – https://www.ataloss.org/Pages/FAQs/Category/coronavirus-pandemic

Care for the Family can support you with your loss if you are widowed young or have lost a child of any age. We want to “weep with those who weep”. We offer telephone befriending, support events (once self-isolation is over) and Facebook groups.

Contact us by e mail: mail@cff.org.uk or Telephone: 029 2081 0800

Comfort Pebbles

The idea is that you paint two identical pebbles, keeping one and giving the other to the person who is seriously ill. It gives a sense of being joined together.

Facebook page called Comfort Pebbles 2020

Little Box of Big Thoughts

Take a moment to think about someone who is/was important in your life. Here is a selection of unfinished sentences that someone can write about someone else who is either dying or has died.

The Little Box of Big Thoughts

WAY

WAY aims to provide peer-to-peer emotional and practical support to young widowed people for people aged 50 or under when their partner died.

https://www.widowedandyoung.org.uk/contact-us/ 

The Centre for the Grief Journey

The Centre for the Grief Journey was established in 1992 to assist and support people in a grieving process after a significant loss and to provide meaningful resources and helps.

The centre’s YouTube channel has many videos that deal with many aspects of the grief journey and tackle difficult subjects very well such as anger and guilt.

https://www.youtube.com/user/Griefjourney/videos 

Samaritans

If you are feeling desperate or are unable to cope with your thoughts and feelings please call the Samaritans on 116 123.

They offer listening and support to people and communities in times of need.

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