How to help a grieving child
Grief never ends; our minds find a way to cope with it and accept it as our new normal. That is not to say the pain or feelings of hopelessness never go away; nor that we will never be able to return to the routines we had in place before the bereavement. Grief stays to remind us of the loved ones no longer around and how much they meant to us. For everyone, grief is different; no two people grieve the same.
At times like this, some are fortunate enough to have a support network of people who will rally around and envelop them with reassuring words and a comforting embrace. Some might distract themselves from intense feelings of grief and loss by throwing themselves into their usual, everyday routine and responsibilities.
But life as we know it, for now, has changed – including the way we cope with our grief after the death of a loved one.
Sadly, as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, and lockdown restrictions are enforced, a hug from a close friend or distracting yourself with work isn’t possible for everyone. In fact, some individuals, who are self-isolating due to Coronavirus symptoms, may be forced to grieve alone and unable to attend the funeral.
At the time of writing, funerals in the UK are still permitted. However, they are limited to immediate family members only. It has also been stipulated by the government that funerals must not exceed 10 mourners.
Most of us view the funeral of our loved one as a chance to take comfort from collective grief. Being with our family and friends who share in the bereavement is an expected ritual and one which plays an important part in the process of grieving. You might envisage a packed church or venue for our loved one’s send-off, and for it to encompass everyone whose lives they touched. It can be difficult to accept this isn’t going to happen. Navigating grief under ordinary circumstances is overwhelming enough. But now, more than ever, people who are grieving will be struggling. Especially as the loss of a loved one is a time when physical closeness to others is so desperately valued and needed.
Below, we’ve attempted to provide some advice for grieving in isolation alone during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Whilst you might be physically isolated from your friends and family, they are still there to support you emotionally through this time. Facetime, which is available on Apple devices, and Skype are free video calling platforms which can help you and your loved ones to have some much needed face-to-face contact. Alternatively, a phone call or a written letter that you can post as you take your daily exercise would be helpful too. Talk to them about what you are going through and let them be a virtual shoulder to cry on.
Many places of worship are currently closed, apart from for funerals. Nonetheless, if you are a religious person, you may take comfort from religious rituals or activities such as praying, meditating and reading. If you are questioning your faith following your loss, reach out to the leader of your place of worship. Some religious leaders have even taken to doing spiritual readings via live videos on social media during this difficult time.
At this time, the smallest tasks may have become very difficult but it’s important to look after yourself. Try to eat nourishing food, get plenty of rest and exercise. At present, in the UK, you are permitted to leave your home once a day to exercise. You are also permitted to leave home to buy food and essential items. Remember, where you can to eat fresh food and drink plenty of water. Sleep when you feel the need; let your body guide you as it works to fix you in your time of need.
Remember, grief is completely normal. It’s also scary, painful and, at times, debilitating. Don’t talk to yourself using harsh language. For instance: ‘I should be doing this by now’. Grief has no time frame and everyone is different. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself time to grieve – you won’t feel like this forever
There are several helplines, with trained professionals, that can either provide you with advice or support you emotionally at this difficult time. Some also have online chat features if you’d rather not talk in person: