Death and grief in the coronavirus crisis: what to do?
Tips for getting through the process of grieving the death of loved ones in times of coronavirus.
One of the great tragedies we are experiencing in our fight against the coronavirus is related to the death of our family members.
Due to its special characteristics, the isolation and the high degree of contagiousness of the virus, deaths occur in solitude, without the company of loved ones.without the company of loved ones. In addition, to this we must add the security measures that are being taken in this regard, preventing the farewells, the realization of funerals, wakes and other rituals necessary to say goodbye to our family and thus, begin to develop the mourning.
One of the most painful experiences that people go through is to say goodbye and accept the loss of a loved one. Grief is the process by which a person develops an adaptive response to the loss of a loved one.person develops an adaptive response to the loss of a loved one..
The duration of this process depends on many factors such as, for example, the bond with the deceased person, the cause of death, the degree of spirituality, the existence or not of a farewell, etc.
On the other hand, within the grieving process we can distinguish several phases that help us to recover normality. They were described by the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler Ross. These phases are the following:
In this first phase of shock, the person denies the loss.. The emotional impact is so great that the person is not yet prepared to cope with the situation. Therefore, denial is triggered as a defense mechanism.
2. Anger or anger
During this stage the emotions that are most present are anger, anger and rage. The person tries to find blame in order to find an explanation for the death..
This stage usually occurs before the death. The person has a false sense of control over the situation and tries to put in place strategies to prevent the fatal outcome from occurring.. Usually the person tries to reach agreements with the divine. This phase is usually the shortest.
Once we realize that there is nothing we can do and we are aware of the reality of the loss, we are overcome with a great sadness and a sense of emptiness, an enormous sadness and a feeling of emptiness invades us..
When we reach this stage, we are able to accept the loss of our loved one. It is not a matter of forgetting, but of repositioning him or her in our lives so that we can move forward..
It is important to point out that not all people go through all the phases or in the same order, each person needs time to resolve each one of them. Once the person has passed and overcome the different phases, we can conclude that he/she has reached the end of the process.
The elaboration of grief in the face of the coronavirus
As we have already commented, the virus is the one that is setting the rules regarding accompaniment, farewells and wakes.. Under these circumstances it is possible that some of the phases of mourning may be blocked or lengthened more than usual, which may (or may not) lead to a complicated mourning.
Another of the characteristics of this situation is that the mourning process begins before the death itself, as it is not possible to visit or accompany the patient during quarantine, hospitalization, etc. The Pain for the loss of the loved one will always be present, regardless of whether or not we can be close to our loved one. The feeling of pain is implicit in this type of situation.
What to do?
The fundamental objective of the mourning process is always the same: to avoid the psychological consequences of not having to process the farewell well. To do this, we will take into account the following guidelines.
1. Take advantage of long-distance communication methods.
In many hospitals in Spain tablets and cell phones are being used to facilitate contact between the patient and family members.. This can be of great help in a future farewell with the patient. Although we cannot do it in person, we will share with our loved ones the pain and suffering we are going through. Through virtual meetings we can share our feelings, remember the deceased and recall the special moments lived with him/her.
2. Do not stop performing farewell rituals.
Wakes, funerals and other rituals are important in order to say goodbye to the loved one and begin the grieving process. In this case we cannot do it at the moment of death, but we can postpone it to the moment when we can do it. The fact that more time has passed than normal does not imply that it does not make sense to perform these farewell rituals..
3. Encourage emotional expression in spite of the situation and restrictions.
We can use writing, writing a letter to the deceased person or using photos and objects to remember the loved one. It is important not to blame ourselves for not having accompanied him/her in these moments and be aware that we have been by their side throughout their life cycle.
Let us try to avoid thinking about the conditions and the way in which he/she passed away. The health personnel have cared for him, accompanied him and it is possible that the patient has been sedated and has not suffered.
A grieving process takes time. We are going to feel sad, but we need to move on, keep doing things and keep living.. We have to try to strike a balance between mourning our loved one and moving on with our lives.
In this exceptional and hard situation we are going through, many circumstances are being altered. As we have seen throughout this article, one of these circumstances is mourning, which is postponed to when we recover normality..
The elaboration of grief, even if it is postponed, is very important to overcome the loss. Therefore, it is advisable to take the necessary steps that we have described to move forward in the process. If you need help along this path, you can contact us at this link.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)