Bereavement Therapists Interview
COVID-19 has posed challenges for all of us. Many of us have been separated from our loved ones and haven’t been free to do the things we usually enjoy. Here at Compton Care we are increasingly aware of the impact this time is having on those who have been bereaved.
In the hope that this may help many of our supporters too, we asked our expert Bereavement Therapists, Louise and Justine, to share with us some of the challenges the lockdown is causing and how they are supporting people through this incredibly difficult time. Please feel free to share this article with anyone you think it may be of some comfort to.
Louise: When we talk to people there is a real sense of the pain and loneliness of isolation, especially for those who are bereaved. Grief is isolating in itself, but to be unable to physically be with others in that grief can be devastating – so difficult not to give or receive a hug, or a gentle hand on the shoulder, or to cry with someone else who loved them too. Sometimes the people we work with live alone and simply have no one to talk to. Their loved one may have been their companion, confidant, friend and partner for many, many years. It’s so difficult for people to be isolated in their grief right now.
Is there any advice you would give to someone going through this?
We have lots of links to support, and our self-care information will be helpful too. We’ve sent out these resources to everyone on our lists, but it’d be good to share them more widely. Cruse, specifically, are doing some great work.
Justine: The usual rituals around death, like meeting with the undertaker, registering the death, connecting with family, funerals, wakes, visiting cemeteries, are all restricted and changed. Much of these important steps are now conducted online, numbers are restricted at funerals, and it’s difficult to even choose flowers sometimes. These rituals are psychologically important – they help us to accept the death, to say goodbye and commemorate our loved one; they help us to grieve. Also, the loss of not being able to give someone the send-off the family feels they deserve can be so difficult. We are concerned about the short-term and long-term implications for people’s grief, wellbeing and mental health.
Are Compton Care doing anything to prepare ourselves for supporting people in future months who have missed out on this very important part of grieving?
Absolutely! We are spending time raising our awareness and keeping up to date with best practice and developments in our field via research and webinars. We are used to working with people experiencing complicated or complex grief and we’re exploring and reflecting often on our expectations of the types of issues clients may present with in the future, based on clinical wisdom. Here is a link to an organisation that gives practical advice if people cannot attend or have a funeral service because of coronavirus:
Louise: We have noticed that some of the people we talk to are finding new ways to distract themselves. Unable to go out to work, or meet friends or go to the gym, people are finding different ways to avoid the big feelings that grief sometimes brings up. People tell us that they’re keeping busy, doing lots of jobs at home, volunteering, and doing their best to avoid being with the grief – because it feels too hard for them to feel it, especially whilst isolated. There is a pressure to ‘do’ rather than ‘be’. ‘Being’ right now is difficult because many people are existing in survival mode, an anxious place, which leaves little space for stillness, rather it keeps us in the ‘doing’ mind frame. People report they feel tired and weary. The effects of the situation are wide-reaching. We need to stop encouraging people to do, do, do and spend a little time being. We have some great support information available for people if they’re feeling like the feelings are too big to be with.
For further informtion and support, please visit our COVID-19 support page.