even then that’s been difficult because of all the covid restrictions.
No need to be reminded of how our world changed and shifted overnight and continued for 18 months plus! For the majority of us, we were left alone with minimal or no support at all.
Physical connection (or human touch) with our family, work, and/or friends had suddenly vanished. They could only be accessed via the phone or online platforms.
No hugs, no office, familiar routines, retail therapy, get-togethers, concerts, live sporting events or trips. These were just a few of the pleasures we lost.
Suddenly, our world changed and became unfamiliar. We were alone and left to figure out new ones with our friends and immediate households.
Collectively we experienced grief although for most it wasn’t recognized as such. When you look at it there was an ending, the death of the life we once enjoyed. The familiar had gone and all that was left with uncertainty.
Modern Technology Allows us to Stay in Touch
Not only did many families have to work from home, (those fortunate enough) but also they became responsible for the online learning for their children. Suddenly life became much more complex.
As if that wasn’t enough you may have experienced unexplained mood swings, temperamental emotions and shorter tempers. A slow build-up of frustrations with no escape, or minimal distractions available to help you cope. Worrisome for sure.
These are all normal and likely you were experiencing grief for the loss of “normal” and these emotions are to be expected during times such as this.
Throughout this period of pandemic restrictions, we have lived life on a roller coaster of HOPE. The anticipated and widespread availability of an anti-coronavirus vaccine and for life to return to its pre-pandemic normal times.
Fear, anxiety and distress were behind many of these emotions experienced during this time and were responsible for many of our behaviours. Each time the death statistics for those who had died because of COVID, our fear level increased.
A famous quote says, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” In the case of the pandemic, we have witnessed millions of death. Behind each death, there is a tragic story. Each time someone died, and often alone these bereaved families experienced an unthinkable level of grief.
This ‘pandemic grief’ experienced by them is likely to be more complicated than the pre-pandemic grief. In years to come, researchers and anthropologists will create a clearer picture of the impact this particular grief has had on those left behind. For now, we can only offer support and to be there for them once restrictions are lifted.
Funerals became Virtual Events
Even holding funerals (or any celebrations of life) have become extremely complicated due to the restrictions placed on any sort of gathering. Therefore, funerals were attended virtually by many bereaved individuals through the screens of their computers. Even, the intimate family moments of life were experienced online.
Some families may decide to hold off a funeral until larger gatherings take place. That way they can properly honour the deceased with the support of their families and community. But in their case, one question pops up in my mind: have they put their grief on hold too?
When the funeral does take place, some who haven’t experienced a loss, may question the need to hold such a gathering after all this time? It is well documented that support is still needed and appreciated in the years following a death. Sometimes the 2nd or 3rd years can be just as difficult. Your support will be appreciated more because the casseroles and support given to families soon after the death occurs just weren’t available.
Needs of Grief for Healing
The important role played by funerals in society can easily be disregarded by many people. However, ceremonies and rituals are parts of our DNA, and rituals provide comfort during our tough times. The funeral, therefore, is the most significant ritual in our society, as it provides us with an opportunity to say a final goodbye.
It is public; it is traditional and is part of the mourning process. An opportunity to express those thoughts and feelings about life, death, and our mutual affiliation with the deceased. In a memorial service, we can honour and celebrate the life of the deceased individual by sharing our collective stories.
We have an opportunity to remember the life of the deceased and recall how his (or her) life gave meaning to ours. In this manner, we are provided with much-needed support and allows us to realize that we are not alone in our difficult times.
Allan D. Wolfelt, Ph D., has recognized various needs, which are central to the healing process after we experience grief. We can find more about these needs in his book titled, ‘Understanding Your Grief.’
Collective Grief Healing
The endurance of grief necessitates support from other people, and it is not a solo undertaking. That’s why support for families is so critical. Also why we take time to call the bereaved families or visit them to listen to their stories over a cup of tea or coffee.
Please continue to bake your famous lasagna or chilli casserole and take it to them to show them that you care. It may be a year later but don’t underestimate the healing presence brings to those grieving.
During the pandemic, we’ve all witnessed how quickly our lives can change and how uncertain is life itself, especially without the familiar routines, This is how life is for many when their loved ones die. The unfamiliar situation becomes their reality of life.
With death or loss of our “normal lives”, grief will be experienced whether we realize it or not.
There is no hierarchy in loss, all loss is felt and experienced for what it meant to the person. Whenever there is an ending there will naturally be sadness.
Humans Need Connections & Touch
During our lockdown period, it was our physical connection and support that was missing. It’s the human touch we thrive on. The hug was an integral missing component during the pandemic period. We actually crave connections and physical touch.
Collectively we all need to heal from the Pandemic Grief by sharing our losses, and telling what this period meant to us. We must not compare our griefs: we must only listen to each other.
Perhaps we will in our communities organize ” loss gatherings” so that other people witness our stories and we theirs. In this way, we can all collectively begin to heal the grief we’ve all experienced during this time.
Please do not grieve alone, or further isolate yourself: Reach out, as help is available.
If you’re ready and committed to heal your grief and live your life fully, I can help you. You can always connect with me at [email protected].