Tips to Cope with Grief During the Pandemic

Losing a loved one is always difficult. As many in our world have sadly learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, coping with grief and loss is even more challenging. People feel cared for when others reach out to them during this difficult time in life. If you know someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, reach out to them with a simple card, phone call, text or Facetime. Your kindness will be appreciated, especially during these difficult times and during the holidays.

During normal times, people are typically able to be with their loved ones when they pass, providing a powerful sense of closure. With COVID-19, people are robbed of this opportunity. Many are unable to physically be with their loved ones and have to say goodbye using a phone or computer tablet. This may leave the survivors feeling alone and frustrated, often feeling like there was more they could have done or feeling in their hearts that they should have done more for their loved one. Many are grieving so strongly, they don’t know what steps to take next; many experience hopelessness in their struggle.

Grief can take on many forms. Many people feel sadness and a sense of loss, but it’s also common to feel anger, confusion, hopelessness or guilt. Especially during the pandemic, many people are wondering why they survived when a loved one succumbed. From these feelings comes a great need to share their thoughts and emotions with others as they process what would seem to be unbelievable.

If you’ve recently lost a loved one to COVID-19 or other cause, here are some suggestions to help you or your family or friends cope with and function through the grief:

  • Be kind to yourself – Focus on caring for yourself and making sure you get plenty of rest. Remember, you are not alone if you will reach out to others for help.
  • Connect with others – Even during the pandemic, there are ways to strengthen relationships and communicate with others. Call a friend or set up a time to chat virtually. It might also help to join a support group to share your feelings and experiences with others who are going through similar situations. Edward-Elmhurst Health also offers 10-week grief support groups at Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals. These groups meet in person with safety measures in place, such as temperature checks and keeping the groups small and socially distanced. Note: due to COVID-19, these groups have been temporarily suspended.
  • Ask family and friends to share photos and letters – Use these physical remembrances to create a memory book in honor of your loved one. Putting it together will help you remember all the good times you shared together over the years.
  • Have a memorial ritual – Even if you’re unable to have a larger-scale funeral or memorial service, it’s still important to find a way to recognize the passing of your loved one. Consider hosting a virtual gathering for family and friends to share memories of your loved one. Another option is planting a tree in their memory.
  • Celebrate the holidays in a way that is meaningful while comforting for you. You may need to help others understand your feelings should you choose to scale down or not participate in regular celebrations. Bringing out just a few decorations or pieces that hold special memories is perfectly acceptable. You are the best judge of what is healing for you within your memories.
  • Seek support from faith-based organizations – If you don’t have family and friends to turn to, it can be helpful to seek support from a faith-based organization. Many offer support groups or provide other ways for members to connect with each other.
  • Seek grief counseling or mental health services – If you find you can’t function day to day, it’s time to seek grief counseling or mental health services. Reach out to a counselor or therapist, or contact your primary care provider for a referral.

Linden Oaks Behavioral Health offers a 24-hour call line for people to get an assessment, referral or more information about behavioral health conditions. We also offer in-patient, outpatient and virtual counseling services. Request an assessment online or call 630-305-5027.
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