Dealing with Grief during Covid 19
Sadly during the coronavirus pandemic, we are dealing with tragic loss of life. Many more people are facing loss and bereavement. At Derby Moor, we want those experiencing loss to know that our thoughts are with you. We will do our best to support you if you have a young person at Derby Moor. Please get in touch with us so that we can help.
Our school counsellor Naomi Wright has put together some information about bereavement and loss to help support the Derby Moor community.
What is grief?
Grief is a mixture of feelings that we experience after a loss. All of us will experience grief that is overwhelming and powerful at some point in our lives. Each experience of grief is unique but there are some common themes. I am going to try and explain some of what is going on by breaking it down into feelings, body symptoms and thoughts.
Here are some common feelings that you may experience- maybe one will be more intense, or you may have several together.
- Shock, confused
- Fear, panic
- Anger, rage
- Disappointment, even hate
- Sympathy for others
Here are some common physical symptoms:
- Racing heart
- Lack of sleep
- Change of eating habits
- Pains/ aches in the body
- Choking sensation
- Exhaustion, lack of energy, not being bothered
- Impulsive behaviour
- More accident prone
- Seeing, hearing or sensing people who have died is common too
- Withdrawing from others
Here some are common themes for our thoughts:
- Playing back memories, flashbacks or dreams over and over and over again
- Not believing a loss has happened
- Searching and looking for our loved one
- Realising all the things that we will miss
- Thinking that we will not be able to cope
- Recognising what they used to do for us and what we need to do now
- Going over events that seemed unfair or not helpful
- Trying to work out what has happened and why
- Not wanting to look weak and to be strong
- Questioning life, your beliefs, choices
- Trying to find a meaning in what has happened
Feeling back to 100% or back to normal is not realistic. Slowly as you adjust, there will be happier times. Here are some suggestions for difficult times:
- Reassure yourself if you are really struggling that you are ‘normal’, it is grief
- Rest and take care of yourself
- Make sure that there is support there for others if you are not able to do this yourself.
- Put together a bit of a routine.
- Include exercise in your routine
- Ask for help with practical things, even asking people to remind you of things can help
- During isolation, it can be especially hard to keep contact with people, especially if they are grieving too and are not in a position to talk. Social media and technology give ways to connect with those you trust. School is a safe place to ask for help as are the organisations below.
- Do things that help you remember your loved one- this can be putting together some pictures, lighting a candle
- Ceremonies or events that help us remember and share our loss- there are some suggestions below from other organisations as to how to do this and social distance
- Do something that tries to bring good out of a bad situation
- Apologise to others if you have had an impulsive outburst- it happens
- Relaxation exercises can help- these are some from mind but there are others https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/relaxation/relaxation-exercises/
- Connect with your religious, spiritual or human beliefs if they are helpful
- Remember that there is hope that your experience will ease
How do I talk to someone who is grieving?
People who are grieving just often need someone who will listen to them. This is tougher than it sounds because you will hear very distressing things. So here are some tips:
- Try saying sorry for their loss.
- Mention something that you remember about their loved one.
- Acknowledge that you can’t imagine how devastated they might be.
- Think of some things you can talk to them about before you call as people can struggle to talk.
- Call them somewhere quiet when you have time to talk and do not have to rush.
- Keep in touch, sending them messages that you know they might like without expecting them to get in touch back.
- Look after yourself because what you hear can be hard and upsetting. Think through where you can get support.
- Suggest some organisations where they can go for help and remind them to talk to people at Derby Moor.
- Ask if there is anything practical that someone needs. Contact Derby Moor if you do not know where to get this support.
How do we talk to children and young people about loss?
- Honesty is so important. Mental health issues arise from not being honest.
- Explain if you do not know the answer, promise to find the answers if you can and give feedback when you know answers.
- Don’t promise what you can’t give.
- Encourage talking, questions and expressing of emotions.
- Don’t expect that a young person will grieve in a certain way.
- Use words and language that are not childish but understandable.
- One discussion is rarely enough. Young people and children often need to grieve at different points in life, for instance, on receiving exam results or having their own children.
- Don’t pretend that they are not hurting or grieving. This does not protect any child or young person.
- Find out what they would like to do to express their grief and try to make this happen.
- Encourage contact with friends and family whilst giving space if it is needed.
When do I ask for help?
Signs that grief might be becoming complicated or there is some trauma which needs specialist help to untangle are some of the following:
- Previous mental health difficulties
- No let up in grief intensity after 6-12 months
- Rage that is regularly uncontrollable
- Intense avoidance of grieving
- Suicidal thoughts and feelings
- Self- harm
- Inability to maintain some sort of routine after 6 months
- Self-destructive behaviours such as drinking too much, doing high risk things, drug abuse, being too involved in work
How long does grief last?
As long as you grieve and there are not other things happening in your life, your grief will ease over time. We now think that grief is not something that we completely ‘get over’. We have new experiences, learn and make different relationships. However, as something reminds us of that person or times when we wish our loved one was celebrating with us, we will need to grieve for a while and then we move on again. This is healthy. What we have learnt from our loved one, we will want to pass on. Some things we will disagree with them on and change. Sometimes we have to grieve for what wasn’t there in the relationship or the regrets we have and then we move on again. This goes on throughout our lives.
Organisations who will be able to help
The National Association of Funeral Directors https://nafd.org.uk/funeral-advice/,
Nelson’s Journey- a charity that supports children and young people after a bereavement http://www.nelsonsjourney.org.uk/covid-19-funeralguidance/
A Blog for Funeral Director’s discussing how to mark a death during this time https://talking-death.com/2020/03/26/how-to-plan-an-alternative-funeral-during-covid-19/
Finance for funerals
Support for bereavement
Sudden death http://www.suddendeath.org/
TEL: 0800 121 6510 Monday - Wednesday between 10am and 2pm You can also leave a message at any time on and they will call you back during their opening hours.
TEL: 0808 808 1677 Monday-Friday 9.30-5pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, until 8pm
Winston’s Wish https://www.winstonswish.org/coronavirus/
TEL: 08088020021 Leave a message on voicemail with your first name and a contact number (with area code) and a Helpline Practitioner will call you back from a withheld number as soon as possible.
Child bereavement UK https://www.childbereavementuk.org/coronavirus-supporting-children
TEL: 0800 02 888 40 Freephone. Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm