It’s Not OK: How to Deal with Grief and Loss in the Time of Coronavirus

The great Roman Emperor and a famous figure in the Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius, once said, “Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back.”

For the emperor and many Stoics like him, death is an inevitable fact of life that we cannot ignore. We should not be afraid of death. Instead, we should remember that it could come at any time, and thus, we should be prepared at any one time to meet it. “Live each moment as if it could be your last,” they say.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the current health crisis gripping the world. The number of deaths has reached staggering heights, globally, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be dropping down anytime soon. Not only has this pandemic changed the way we work and the way we live, but it has also changed the way we hold funerals and grieve.

Here are some ways you can cope with the death of a loved one during a pandemic.

Organise a Video Conference on the Day of the Funeral

Gatherings of more than five or 10 people are still strictly enforced in some areas, and, sadly, that includes funeral homes. Where we would have once gathered to grieve in solidarity, we would now have to do in our own homes. To keep the loneliness at bay, organise a video conference with family and friends on the exact day and time of the funeral.

With the current situation, many services offered by funeral directors include livestreaming the cremation of a deceased loved one. Talk to them. Organise the cremation as you would a regular funeral. Your funeral director would be in the best position to guide you on ways to make this time more comfortable for you and your family.

Open A Group Chat on Social Media

At a regular funeral, pre-pandemic, many of us would be gathered at the funeral home, exchanging stories about the deceased loved one. You can recreate this atmosphere by setting up a private group chat with their closest family and friends.

Facebook, Whatsapp, and Viber are just a few examples of apps that you can use to create your own private grief support group. Facebook is especially helpful as you can create a memorial page for your loved one that you can share publicly. You can create an account from scratch or request to have Facebook memorialise their page.

Find a Grief Support Group Online

The fact is some people who have passed away are older folks who might no longer be in touch with their closest friends or family. Perhaps you are a frontliner that helped them through this difficult time or were in hospice care with them. People who may not have been friends or family with someone could still feel unimaginable grief at their passing. To mitigate that feeling of sadness and grief, look for online grief support groups. Here, you can talk to trained therapists who could help you deal with these feelings.

What to Say to Someone Grieving Over the Loss of a Loved One to COVID-19

Comforting someone

Their loved one isn’t just a statistic, but it could be awkward to find the right things to say to someone suffering a loss directly connected to COVID-19. You could’ve lost someone yourself, but while it might be easy to launch into your own grieving process, understand that the process is different for everybody.

Instead, acknowledge their grief. Say you are sorry for their loss and understand how difficult it is, especially when they become part of the growing number of COVID-19 deaths. Be compassionate. Empathize and be patient. They more likely came to talk to you because they feel an affinity with you. Give advice only when it is asked for. Otherwise, the best thing you can do? Listen.