Coronavirus: grief and trauma | Cruse Bereavement Care

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If someone dies of coronavirus or complications resulting from the virus, a number of things may be particularly hard for family and friends to deal with.

Infection controls may mean that family members have not had an opportunity to spend time with someone who is dying, or to say goodbye in person. 

Depending on the person, the illness may have progressed and become serious very quickly, which can lead to feelings of shock. If they were not able to be present for the death and cannot view the body, it may be difficult to accept the reality of a bereavement. 

At times of considerable trauma, people tend to look for certainty. However at the moment, that certainty is not there. This can amplify any feelings of angst and distress.

Bereaved people may be exposed to stories in the media which highlight the traumatic nature of death in these circumstances. Or they may have witnessed distressing scenes directly. People may become disturbed by mental images, which in a severe form can become Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder (PTSD).

If the health services become stretched, friends or family may also have concerns about the care the person received before they died. This in turn can lead to feelings of anger and guilt.

How you can help yourself

Talking things through with friends and family can be very comforting. This can be done remotely if you or they are isolating. 

If you are feeling very distressed, share your feelings with someone you trust. If feelings persist your GP is usually the first port of call for access to more specialist services. At the present time there may be some additional delays here if GPs are under pressure from the pandemic. You can also contact Cruse for advice on the next steps.

It can help to think of ways you can remember the person who has died, and keep them as part of your life. This might mean keeping a few special possessions, creating a memory box or special album of pictures, or organising a time for family and friends to come together and remember.

How you can help another person

Try to stay in contact with bereaved friends and family (even if you cannot visit in person if you or they are isolating).  Let them talk about how they are feeling and about the person who has died – talking can be one of the most helpful things after someone dies. If you are worried they are experiencing very severe symptoms or flashbacks you could suggest they contact Cruse or their GP for further advice and support.

How Cruse can help

Feelings of anger and blame are common after any bereavement. When someone has died under sudden or traumatic circumstances it can make these feelings worse. 

Many people working on the front line of care have to deal with extremely distressing events, while working under pressured and stressful conditions.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid of discussion of death and dying. This can bring up difficult feelings for those with anxiety, mental health issues, or past traumatic bereavements.