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Coping with grief in the times of Covid

Today, we all are sailing in the same boat. Around the world we all are faced with the same issue- Covid 19. In India, there have been 3.15 lakh deaths in India due to Covid. As a result, many people are going through grief due to the deaths of their love

Post by on Saturday, May 29, 2021

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Dr JANKHANA HAKANI      

Today, we all are sailing in the same boat. Around the world we all are faced with the same issue- Covid 19. In India, there have been 3.15 lakh deaths in India due to Covid. As a result, many people are going through grief due to the deaths of their loved ones to Covid-19.

Grief is a normal response to loss during or after a disaster or other traumatic event. Grief can happen in response to loss of life, as well as to drastic changes to daily routines and ways of life that usually bring us comfort and a feeling of stability.

Grieving people go through various stages and different forms of emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, yearning, regret, etc.

The extent of emotions varies from mild to very intense. Many times there is even confusion as to what the person is going through, i.e., the person doesn’t know what he/she is feeling.

How is grief different in this pandemic?

1.      It is SUDDEN. It brings shock. It is illogical. Eg- A young , otherwise healthy person, having fever, Covid +ve, starts crashing in a few days and passes away.

2.     The grieving process is odd. Because of the pandemic, it is a disaster/ war like situation, wherein one is not able to see the deceased. One is not able to touch, hold or hug the deceased, cry and say their final goodbyes.

3.     The rituals like washing and cleaning the departed, holding the last rites ceremonies, taking the deceased to the crematorium, are not possible.

 

These are important parts of a grieving process. The chance of final good bye is taken away. On one side it feels so unjust and unfair, on the other side it feels hollow and heavy at the same time.

Families have been devastated wherein many times there may be only 1 or 2 family member survivor/s.

What can one do?

Understand that grief in a pandemic has two components- 1. Universal and 2. Personal

Personal means your own grief. Not shared by anyone. It is how you feel about the deceased. It is your relationship with the deceased and how you are coping with it.

Whereas, Universal means, like you many people are going through the same thing. Yes, you do grieve differently than others but the underlying theme is common and that is death due to covid. You can relate your loss and non-possibility of grieving rituals.

 

2 ways as how people grieve

1.    Instrumental Grief: meaning they take the role of problem solver/ care taker/ etc. They become practical. They go in the mode of arranging certificates, organizing documents, finishing up house work, banking work, will formalities, etc. These people keep their emotions under control, and sometimes even minimize it too.

2.  Emotional Grief :  Dwells on the loss.

What will help?

1.    Give yourself time to process the loss.

2.  Writing/ Journaling about your feelings- causes relief- this is called Catharsis.

3.  RETELLING- your loss to someone you can confide in.

4.  Arrange for the last rites rituals on an online platform like zoom/ facebook live, etc. for people to attend. Atleast virtually. People get a chance to say their goodbyes.

5.  Shared grief- Sharing of solidarity. Join an online group for people grieving from loss of loved ones due to covid. This helps to cope better. DO NOT grieve alone.

6.  Condolences and RIPs, emojis have become a way of expressing grief.

7.   Remember – with death, the person has passed away. But, not the relationship. Celebrate the relationship and cherish the memories.

8.  Say your final Goodbyes to the deceased

9.  Cry, yearn, experience sadness, but do not restrict your activities. Restore your life- day to day activities. It's to go back and forth between grief and restoration oriented activities.

10.                                                                                                                           DO NOT neglect your hunger, sleep and exercise. Be patient with yourself.

 

How can we help someone who is grieving?

1.    Listen to them. Be there for them. If they want to cry, let them. If they just want to sit silently next to you, provide the silent companionship. Be present and nonjudgmentally. Create a safe place for them so they can talk to you easily. Bearing with them through the experience. This is called “COMPANIONING” by Alan Wolfelt.

2.  Honour the deceased. Talk about what good memories you have of the person.

3.  Do not give advice.

4.  Share their pain.

 

What about Children?

Children also grieve their losses. Let them cry. Let them be a part of the rituals. If they want to say their goodbyes, allow them. Allow the child to TAKE A BREAK from the grieving process by responding normally and inculcating normal routines.

 

Slowly, in Solidarity, we learn to reset our lives without the presence of the deceased, with remembering and cherishing the memories and keeping the relationship with the departed soul alive in us.







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