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Dr Russ Hargreaves, Head of Wellbeing
Dr Russ Hargreaves, Head of Wellbeing

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Dying Matters Awareness Week: Bereavement in the time of Covid-19 – what happens next?

So, as I write this, we are in Week 7 of the UK lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, and for many people, we have settled into something which feels like ‘the new normal’. Whilst none of this has been a bed of roses, some people have managed to find comfort in the fact that the pace of life has slowed down and that we can take a second to watch the world go by.

However, no sooner have we become accustomed to life, it is time to look at what happens next. What will life look like in a month or a year ahead? I can be sure that we will have made it through the most momentous episode to befall the UK since World War 2, over 700 years ago. We will have lost many neighbours, friends and family. Too many. And we may look at the world with slightly more sceptical eyes, wondering who may still have an invisible virus that has been such an unwelcome guest.

I can also be sure that the bereavements experienced after this pandemic will be unlike many that we have gone through before. Grief is a very normal response to death. It is painful, uncomfortable and messy. Grief can take us on unexpected twists and turns, catching us unawares when we think we might be over the worst of it. However, this is what we call ‘uncomplicated grief’, sometimes known as ‘normal grief’.

The Covid crisis will introduce yet another unwelcome guest – known as ‘Complicated Grief’. Whilst you may be thinking that all grief is complicated, and you wouldn’t be wrong, Complicated Grief is a phenomenon where the symptoms of our bereavement are prolonged. Some people even find that their symptoms worsen with time. Where normally we might expect somebody to begin to acclimatise to their loss, this happens less well in complicated grief. People may find that life has less meaning without the person who has died. Occasionally, people can find that they feel on edge or jumpy and this doesn’t settle.

Because of the circumstances of the lockdown, many bereaved people have not been able to spend precious time with their loved ones before they died. They may also have been denied attendance at a funeral, or to visit the funeral home one last time. Some people will become angry with themselves for allowing their loved one to go to hospital if it meant they died away from their family. All of this is prone to increase the likelihood of complicated grief.

Whilst this may sound terribly scary, ellenor is used to working with complicated grief, we see it often, and whilst we would never wish it on anybody, we try our best to ensure that nobody is ever Dying to be Heard. Our counsellors are trained to work with all kinds of bereavement. Indeed, many people don’t need to access counselling, preferring instead to speak to others who have been through a similar experience. We have groups for these people, simply somewhere to share the load when you’re having a bad day. We even have groups where people can Walk & Talk, for those that prefer to share their story with others whilst getting out into the fresh air.

Whatever the nature of your grief, ellenor will do all it can to make sure that you are heard. If you would like to find out more you can contact us on 01474 320007 and we will do our best to direct you to the right ellenor service for you.

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Basia Wilson

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