For many of us, the thing that is top of mind at the moment is to worry. Thinking about how to manage working from home, how to get the things we need, how to occupy and entertain our children and what will happen if we or our loved ones become unwell.

Not only are there the tragic losses of life, loved ones, health and income to deal with, we are also dealing with the loss of our previous life. Events that have been cancelled, the friends we are unable to meet, the ordinary activities like having a haircut or going to the gym that is not currently possible.

Young children may be feeling the loss of time with a parent when older children were at school, teens the loss of ends of term activities or anxiously anticipated exams, and parents the loss of some time out of the home. 

These less obvious losses matter and need to be acknowledged.

Unacknowledged losses can build up stresses, and come out in other less healthy ways and add to our feelings of isolation at a time when we are already more isolated by having to stay at home. We can end up getting snappy, unable to focus and out of sorts when we are pushing feelings away.

Dealing with loss

As the pandemic unfolds there will be the devastating loss of life and loved ones, with the inability to say goodbye and to mourn these losses in ways we usually would. These are difficult times and it is important to find help and comfort as we grieve.

There are ways we can better acknowledge all of these losses and make some space for them as we go through this epidemic. The more we can do this, and validate the range of feelings we will all have at different times, the more we can make sense of the experiences we are facing.

Make some space for your feelings

We can tend to want to ‘get rid’ of painful feelings, believing it is better to power through, or to try and cheer ourselves up. Staying with emotional pain and sadness can be uncomfortable.

When supporting others who are experiencing loss we might try to point them towards the positive by saying, “Don’t be sad about missing out on your end of term play, just think about all the nice things we can do with the time instead”.

Acknowledging how they are feeling might help, phrasing it like “I can see how disappointed you are, you were looking forward to that and had worked so hard on learning your lines. I am sorry it has to be this way” can help show your understanding.

Stages of grief

There are known to be five stages to the grief process:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

These don’t go one way and people can move in and out of the different feelings at different times. While we are all living in close quarters it is even more important to acknowledge both our similarities and our differences.

For example, one member of the family might want to keep busy, while another will want to keep track of the news minute to minute. One child will seek comfort and reassurance while another will want to spend time on their own, or talking to friends.

Previous experience will affect how you manage your feelings now

One thing we do know is that those who have experienced traumatic losses in the past are likely to find it even more difficult to cope with the uncertainty and loss of the familiar during this time.

Children who have been in care, those who have experienced a serious illness, or bereavement and those who have been caught between warring parents are just some who may find the unpredictability and the loss of control all the more difficult at the moment and need compassion and care to manage their feelings.

Adults who have suffered a bereavement or other significant loss may find the losses experienced as part of this current crisis all the more acute and hard to manage.

Make time for now

In this time of uncertainty, we might spend a great deal of time thinking about the future and worry about losses that haven’t yet happened. It can quickly mount up as thoughts go round and round in our heads.

It can help to set aside some time for worrying, and also to make time for just being in the moment and giving yourself a break to enjoy something right now.

Reconnecting with things that calm us, like settling down with a good film, having a hot bath, sitting in the garden or doing a puzzle are all good ways to take some time away from worries about these possible futures.


Useful contact numbers:

For parents

Family Action. Providing support for adult members of families via telephone, text, email and webchat on their FAMILYLINE

Family Lives free and confidential helpline for parents in England & Wales How we can help

For parents in Scotland from Children 1st PARENTLINE

For parents in Northern Ireland PARENTLINE

For Grandparents

https://www.gransnet.com/

Bereavement support

Cruse Bereavement Care Freephone National Helpline is staffed by trained bereavement volunteers, who offer emotional support to anyone affected by bereavement.

Offering a listening ear and emotional support to anyone who has lost someone they love, or been affected by a bereavement. All calls are answered by trained Cruse volunteers.

0808 808 1677​

[email protected]

Winston’s Wish, for adults caring for a bereaved child or young person: 08452 03 04 05 9-5pm Monday- Friday www.winstonswish.org.uk

Muslim Bereavement Support: 020 3468 7333 / [email protected]  

Bereavement Trust Helplines (6 – 10pm 365 days a year)
Urdu & Gujarati Bereavement Helpline 0800 9177 416
Cantonese & Mandarin Bereavement Helpline 0800 0304 236
www.bereavement-trust.org.uk