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Remembering A Life Blog

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Stories and inspiration to help you keep the memories of your loved ones alive

What is hope? It’s an expectation of a good that is yet to be. It is an inner knowing that the future holds positive things. It is trust that no matter the current circumstances, the days to come will reveal happiness. It’s forward-looking—yet experienced in the now. Like mourning, nurturing hope is active. It’s something we can do. Let’s look at what we can do to embrace hope even as we are experiencing the many losses caused by this pandemic.

Alongside the physical pandemic, the novel coronavirus is causing a pandemic of grief. That’s what we’re all feeling right now—grief. It’s important to recognize that. Grief is everything we think and feel inside of us whenever our attachments are threatened, harmed, or severed. We experience shock and disbelief. We are anxious, which is a form of fear. We become sad and possibly lonely. We get angry. We feel guilty or regretful. The sum total of all these and any other thoughts and feelings we are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is our grief.

Every one of us is living in an unsettling and uncertain cultural space right now – we may be caught between anticipatorily fearing becoming sick or losing a loved one to this virus while also grappling with real-time non-death losses that are impacting us in ways that are often overlooked.

Needless to say, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is a challenging time for everyone. But if someone you love has died, it is likely that the current social distancing orders and travel restrictions are making funeral planning especially difficult for your family.  Losing a loved one is hard enough. Losing a loved one at a time of unprecedented upheaval and limitations may seem overwhelming. I am sorry you have been put in this position, and I hope this article will help your family find ways to meet your mourning needs and honor the person who died while making any necessary adjustments to keep everyone safe.

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, presents many unique challenges for those who are grieving. Whether their loved one died of complications of coronavirus or through any other means, bereaved persons are now making difficult decisions about funerary services in a time of social distancing, often after experiencing little or no time with their loved one in their final days as a result of new visitation limitations in place at health care and hospice facilities. Because the coronavirus pandemic is not expected to be resolved in weeks but is projected to intensify and continue for months, it is important that we radically reorient the ways in which we provide support for grieving persons.

When it comes to painful, complex realities, it can be difficult to know how much we should share with children. Many people have an instinct to protect kids. But as someone who has worked with and advocated for grieving children for many decades, I’ve learned that what they really need is honesty combined with steadfast care.

If you have experienced the recent death of a loved one or wish to support someone who is grieving, it is important to acknowledge the unique challenges that the coronavirus pandemic poses both to mourning rituals and to the grief experience, particularly as guidelines for social distancing and public closures currently vary from state to state and are changing on a daily basis.

“Radley, a golden doodle, came to us at the age of eight weeks and was quickly adopted by our staff. We have determined that most of her work is done from instinct – she recognizes when people need her attention."

“I was angry, and they told me not to be angry. I wanted to talk about how my dad died, and they told me to lie about how he died. I stood in line at the funeral and said the word ‘accident’ over and over again instead of the word ‘addiction.’ When I cried, I cried alone. When I tried to talk about how powerless I felt, they told me that they understood but that I would get over it. They didn’t understand and my grief never resolved. I wish that people in general, and especially people who work with those who have lost a loved one, understood that not everyone is dealt an equal hand in terms of being allowed to grieve openly.” - Allie

While we can’t prevent our loved ones from experiencing disenfranchised grief, we can develop helpful and supportive responses to their losses that can lessen their other experiences of disenfranchisement and help them overcome the powerlessness and helplessness that disenfranchised grievers often feel. In much of my work, I talk about the central role of communication in supporting people who are suffering, dying, or grieving.