Grieving During a Pandemic
Losing a loved one is never easy, the Coronavirus pandemic has complicated the process of grieving.
Normal grief can often resemble depression ( i.e. sadness, loss of interest, lack of pleasure) but often resolves within a few months. Contrary to normal grief, Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) can have long lasting effects in an individual which can include persistent yearning, preoccupation, and rumination surrounding the deceased person, circumstances surrounding their death, and intense sorrow that does not resolve with time.
Due to the heavy restrictions placed in hospitals and social distancing requirements, there is an impact in how individuals access those norms and rituals that aid in grieving. Visitation restrictions means that people are dying in relative isolation and those mourning are left with limited closure.
Places of worship or group gatherings of any sort have strict social distancing guidelines that can interfere with the way viewings and funerals are conducted. Integral aspects of mourning that help decrease feelings of loneliness for the bereaved, such as physical touch and social connections are less accessible. These shifts in our grieving outlets lead to an increased occurrence of PGD.
Being aware of the social limitations imposed on the grief process and the characteristics of PGD can help one become more insightful to the situation and increase the support toolbox. Although death is part of life it doesn’t take away from the pain or suffering we experience when we lose someone we love. Giving ourselves the space to grieve, despite the current limitations, means allowing ourselves to feel and name the emotions. It means we give ourselves time to remember our loved ones life, share their stories, and relive memories we’ve created together. Grieving during a pandemic is different and requires us to become creative with how we access the norms and rituals that facilitate the process.
Siuna Esmaili, LCSW
Recruitment & Outreach Director
The information on this blog is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat a medical or psychiatric illness. It is for informational purposes only. Diagnosis and treatment of medical and psychiatric illness can only be done by a licensed clinical professional, and mentalfitnessclinic.com recommends consulting with a qualified healthcare provider for any questions or issues you may have. This blog cannot be used as a substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional.
- American Psychiatric Association (APA). July 1, 2020 . COVID-19 May Lead to Uptick in Cases of Prolonged Grief Disorder