DEATHCARE 101: Coping with grief during the pandemic

2020 may just be a year of unfortunate events - from the COVID-19 pandemic, to volcanic eruptions, strong typhoons in our country and forest fires on the other side of the world. Humanity has faced a lot of trials but we still try to move on and live our lives, however difficult - especially to those who have lost friends and family along the way.

The sudden passing of friends and family is more challenging during these times, with limited opportunities to do helpful grief recovery activities or be with one’s support group. If left unaddressed, grief can take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health which is not favorable while we are still experiencing a health crisis.

While we are still in the midst of this pandemic and our battle with COVID-19 is far from over, we would like to suggest the following tips that can be helpful in dealing with grief and loss.

  • Know your feelings are valid. Grief is a natural response to loss. There is no right or wrong way to experience it. One’s response to loss may also be different from others. Acknowledging your emotions as real makes it easier to manage over time.
  • Sudden loss is shocking and hard to understand. Overthinking can only get you caught up in imagining all kinds of alternative scenarios which can only get you sidetracked from the healing process.

According to Dr. M. Katherine Shear, we need to accept death, the presence of the pandemic and its consequences. We need the power of courage, creativity, and fortitude to change what we can. This means finding ways to restore your well-being and to cope with the pandemic. This includes three basic components which are: 1) acting in ways that are consistent with important personal values or deeply held interests; 2) feeling competent to face and meet important challenges in life; and, 3) having a sense of belonging and matter in the world.

  • Surround yourself with people. Isolation after a loss is never helpful. There are a lot of digital applications that can be used to stay connected with loved ones. Social distancing may prevent you from getting the physical support you need but you can utilize phone calls, text messages, video chats and social media to keep in touch with family and friends who can give you the support that you need.
  • Follow a routine. It gives a sense of order and purpose no matter how much things have changed. Include a variety of activities that you enjoy such as hobbies and exercise. These can help you cope and take your mind off negative thoughts.
  • Inhibit negativity. Negative thoughts, feelings and behavior can hinder the healing process. Take a break from knowing news that will only aggravate your grief. Spending too much time reading or listening to news about the pandemic can cause you to trigger on what you have  lost, as well as increase anxiety.
  • Allow yourself some happiness. Losing a loved one does not make being happy a crime. Allow yourself to have joy and satisfaction in your life again. This might take a while depending on your relationship with the deceased; but, try not to hold yourself back from feeling positive emotions and savoring them.

Give yourself the permission to mourn and treat yourself and others with kindness during these times. We  might have different perspectives in life - from our experiences, beliefs and traditions. It is hard to cope with grief during this pandemic but we need to be strong for ourselves and our loved ones.  Remember: focus on the present and the things you can manage.

Seek the help of professionals if you are having problems managing your grief caused by the pandemic. Here are the hotline numbers of the NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS, 0917-899-USAP(8727) and 989-USAP(8727).

Article title: Coronavirus grief: Coping with the loss of routine during the pandemic

Article title: How to Cope With Grief Amid COVID-19

Article title: Grieving During a Pandemic