Bereavement During the Pandemic.

I imagine that many of you have already experienced the loss of a family member or close friend through covid. It is obviously not an uncommon experience these days. Here are my thoughts in these times. It is the most sobering when one finally experiences it personally. All the theory of practicing gratitude and positive thinking; all the teaching about how one grieves and all the past experiences of living through the death of a loved one cannot prepare one for a new loss because each relationship and situation is different. No matter how much the person is liked or not – there is a loss; even when it is not your own personal loss you are bound to be affected by others around you.  

Prior Death

Before the death there is the suffering of the illness. The stress of waiting to hear how the person is doing; and if and when they will die makes one feel like one’s life is put on pause. It is not a pleasant feeling. It’s like you are on pause because there is nothing that you want to do and yet you would rather be doing something pleasant to take away the uncomfortable feelings. You know that it is important to be supportive of those close to the person yet you also know that the person suffering can’t be visited due to the pandemic rules.

New Pandemic Rules:

The pandemic has brought a new set of “rules” like no hugging, and not being able to visit the person in person and not being able to attend funerals and memorial services. These are not uncommon factors these days: they are new rules of life and are difficult to traverse because as we have not been in these circumstances before. We find ourselves in a position of being unable to grieve in the manner we culturally normally do. We are forced to find new ways like memorials on Zoom and families organizing the “occasion” on line. It becomes a lonely affair. Grief is usually expressed communally. It is healthy to be together with the survivors in times of grief but now we are kept apart.

Why am I writing about this?

This week two people I know died: an old friend’s father whom I knew since I was 8 years old and my father-in-law. They were both from the village I grew up in. They were of similar age and ordinarily one would say they were ready to go. What was sad is that they had to go through it alone and that there was no way for family members to come alongside them and be there at the bedside as is normal. For some religions a priest normally comes to pray for the dying and that could not happen either. These are all strange things to be experiencing. The whole world is experiencing it. So it is both personal and impersonal.

All I know is, while your family and friends are alive:

  • Keep short accounts with those you know; see that you apologize for offenses you have created and see that you take the time to tell people that you care for them. Try to reach out even if you feel hurt or hardness in your heart because sometime it might be too late. You will be the one left with the wound.
  • It can feel like a chore visiting older people but they appreciate it, and if you at least take time to show that you care and that you remember them you will suffer less regret after they die.  

For a loved one suffering bereavement:

  • Be patient with those who have lost a family member because they have never experienced the feelings they are currently going through. It can be confusing or feel like a heavy weight, they might not be able to sleep or think straight, they might need you just to be there to listen, they might need you to gently ‘steer them to the shore so that they can find dry land.’
  • Sometimes you might begin to feel unusual feelings of frustration or anger but remember it could be that you are picking up on their feelings. All feelings are allowed in grief: anger, frustration, confusion, desolation, denial, disbelief, regret, guilt, relief, acceptance, and many more. Try to be kind hearted and understanding.

If it is yourself that is suffering grief:

  • Remember grief has no time limit or timeline; it has no formula and it has a life of its own. It can feel like it hasn’t hit yet in the beginning and then it can feel like it goes on and on. Try to remember that the person has left memories with you that you can call on at any time. You can allow the person to live on in the ways you remember them or if it is healthier for you, you can wish them well and let them go.
  • Try to seek comfort in places and people that can support you and never feel ashamed of grief, it is normal.

I wish that life were different to what it is right now but as it is what it is I wish for each of you a Hope that surpasses all understanding in these circumstances.

Best wishes,

26 thoughts on “Bereavement During the Pandemic.

  1. My heartfelt condolences, Morag! I can very well relate, as I lost one of my fast friends in my native place, and I couldn’t go. I attended the programme on zoom, but couldn’t control my emotions. This article of yours has been very well articulated with deep thoughts. Thanks a lot for sharing it.🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Morag, this is a beautiful piece. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    During the lockdown, losing someone must leave an enormous gap, but I recall the loss of my father many years ago when I was away from home; I could not be there and could only return for his funeral. That gap remains with me to this day, nearly 20 years later, but in my thoughts, his presence is right here, right beside me; he has never left me.
    Keep well and safe 💐💐🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully worded and with such great understanding and compassion. Thank you. I want to share this on my blog because I know there are some who could use your wisdom to help them cope with their losses.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so very much for this Morag. My father-in-law passed during the pandemic (about 2 months ago). We have not had a memorial or anything for him. Online felt too impersonal. Now it is just in limbo… No real closure. It’s a very sad way to say farewell to a man who was so full of life and adventure. I know I’m not the only one dealing with this, so thank you for your thoughtful article. With sincere appreciation, Alisen

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome 🤗I am sorry to hear about your father in law too… Very awkward times.. I hope that there can be some kind of ritual that will bring solace and closure for your family in the end. I know that our family hopes to meet up in a years time (we have one Family in New Zealand and others in the UK as well as in South Africa) but who knows what next year will bring. One thing is for certain… We can’t take life for granted anymore. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sorry too, Morag for your loss. It is a time of such a feeling of impotence, sadness and frustration of not being able to express grief in our ‘normal’, social way. At least here in Spain we can attend funerals and wakes in limited numbers. Let’s hope and pray that things will soon change for the better!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So sorry for your loss. This 3rd wave is something else. For almost a year I knew of no-one who had covid, until we got it, now it’s everywhere, I know of so many who has it, or who has lost the battle.
    Not being able to visit in hospital is the worst, and not getting regular updated from them is also not nice. Fortunate that my mom got out after a month in ICU, my fiancée’s father was admitted on Tuesday, so hoping for the best.
    Take care and look after yourself, guess the only thing we can do is wear a mask, keep your distance and hope for the best.


  7. I am sorry for your losses, Morag. Someone very close to me became very ill and was close to death. He now lives with residual symptoms. Thank you for your words of wisdom about grief and relationships. I have shared on Twitter.
    Many Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

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