We are so very sorry you lost someone dear to you. Whether they died of Covid-19 or another way, you will have faced something unimaginable and unprecedented which will have left you feeling devastated and powerless. Without the support of family and friends during lockdown, many will have put their grief on hold, dealt with their loneliness and the practicalities of the time, and only now be beginning to deal with the consequences of their loss. Now would be a good time to start to deal with your grief. There is plenty of support available and on AtaLoss.org you can find it in your area. There are many people doing the same so please don't delay. People are waiting to help you.
Sara Murphy produced a booklet to help those who were bereaved during the pandemic. The following text is an extract from her booklet which we hope you find useful.

The Nature of Grief

While grief is a universal experience and all of us will experience grief many times over the course of our lives, every grief experience is also unique. We do not grieve in the same way over different losses, and individual survivors grieve the death of one person differently.

It is important that you give yourself permission to feel the emotions you are feeling, which may change from day to day or even from one moment to the next. There is no “wrong” or “right” way to grieve - your emotions reflect both your special relationship to your loved one and the circumstances of their death.

Traumatic Loss

Losing a loved one in the midst of the pandemic will have been a traumatic experience. If we lose someone suddenly, or if we were not able to be with them while they were dying, our grief responses are complicated by the traumatic nature of the loss. Survivors may feel overwhelmed with thoughts of their loved one’s death. They may experience intense distress in yearning or searching for the deceased due to their sudden separation. The bereaved may also experience emotional distress along with their other grief emotions, including feelings of emptiness, disbelief, and distrust in other people.

If you are experiencing any of these feelings, know that they are normal responses to the abnormal circumstances of your loss and that, with time and support, they will lessen. However, be aware that you may only now be beginning to grieve for your loved one.

Ambiguous Losses

Grief following a loved one’s death can be complicated during a public health crisis because we are all experiencing non-death losses at the same time such as financial insecurity, lack of social contact or loss of freedom. 

Grieving a death while dealing with non-death losses can feel overwhelming because they may have impacted on the degree to which you could be with your loved one prior to their death. Now, as we emerge from the restrictions, you might be feeling that your grief hasn't been recognised and supported because everyone appears to be getting on with life. While you grieve your loved one, try to recognise and validate the other losses you are experiencing as a way of making sense of how these losses impact one another for you personally.

Risk of Disenfranchised Grief

In addition to other complications to grieving the loss of a loved one during the pandemic, survivors are at risk of experiencing disenfranchised grief. Anyone suffering a loss whose grief is not openly acknowledged, socially validated, or publicly observed can experience disenfranchised grief, including survivors in a pandemic. When the number of people who die of a single virus is extremely high, one may feel that their loved one’s death did not receive attention or was only being treated as a statistic.
Here are steps to take to overcome disenfranchised grief:
  • Practice emotional self-care - identify your losses and validate your feelings about them
  • Continue to ask for support from the friends and family 
  • Plan memorials and tributes to your loved one, as soon as possible.

Separated From Your Loved One at the Time of Their Death

There are no words possible to erase the pain you may be feeling at not being with your loved one during their death, but it can be helpful to remember that a life is far more than its endpoint. The life of your loved one was made up of millions of moments, including moments of laughter, happiness, and joy, many of which you shared with them. Remembering these shared moments now might help you remind yourself that you carry your whole relationship with your loved one with you as you move forward with your grief.

Right now, you may feel upset because they had to die without the benefit of family and friends at their side. That feeling is understandable. Know, though, that they did not die alone. Their death was witnessed and felt by compassionate nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals who sought to surround them with care and comfort. And, importantly, they died while wrapped in the love they felt for you and from you throughout their life.

Support Your Health While Grieving

Taking steps that value your physical and emotional health is crucial while working through your loss. Some strategies include:
  • Routine – establishing and maintaining a routine to help you take some control over your daily life
  • Nourishment – try to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods and drink plenty of water
  • Limiting alcohol and drugs – abusing alcohol or drugs can endanger your health while also hindering your grieving process
  • Exercise – engaging in physical movement, even a short walk can be helpful to your well-being
  • Sleep – try to rest your mind and body even if you are experiencing sleep disturbances
  • Mental health checks – “check in” with yourself and your feelings at least twice a day 
  • Mood changes – If you are experiencing mood changes, practice deep breathing and remove yourself from the environment in which you are experiencing them if possible.
  • Seeking support – consider finding bereavement support that suits you on this website. There are plenty of options available here - from peer support groups to counselling - and you really don't need to sit on a waiting list.

Find Support Here.

Conclusions and Beginnings

I encourage you to reflect on memories with your loved one and the particular gifts they brought to your life. We do not get over grief, we get through it. It is important that we honour our dead and share our grief into the future. Our love for those we have lost will not end. After a death, we move forward into a world that has changed personally and permanently, but we do not leave our loved ones behind. We carry them with us, with the knowledge that our bonds cannot be broken, even by death.

About the Author

Sara Murphy, PhD, CT, is a death educator and certified thanatologist (Association for Death Education and Counselling). Dr. Murphy teaches at the University of Rhode Island and conducts workshops and seminars on death, dying, and bereavement nationwide for professional organisations, schools, and community groups.

Useful helplines and links:

Have a look at this short film AtaLoss has produced to help you find bereavement support on our website. After watching, click on the button above to search the support available across the UK.

 View the film here

If you are feeling depressed you might find this short film on depression and advice on managing it helpful. 

See the resources section on this website which has many helpful reads about grief, how to help children and teenagers, reflective material, questions about faith in bereavement, and many other subjects that will support you on your bereavement journey.