As human beings we are born with an instinctive drive for connectedness with others. This is evident in all we do throughout our lifetime. As an infant we depend on others to nourish, protect and care for us, as we grow we look to others to teach and guide us, befriend and entertain us, and so it is true in times of grieving.
The complexities involved in the grief process makes communion with others especially important during this time. The COVID19 pandemic presents a major challenge for people whose loved ones are dying or have died. In many cases people are not able to spend those precious last moments of life with their loved one., Then as they find themselves without that person the aloneness is now compounded by social isolation.
The most prominent ritual associated with death, the funeral, is currently limited to fewer than 10 immediate family members standing six feet apart. Funerals or Celebrations of Life have great value in our culture as they are a distinct event that recognizes and celebrates the life and contributions of someone important to us. From beginning to end the rituals involved are meant to help the bereaved process their loss. The funeral procession is a physical representation of the deceased’s transition from life to death. People who attend the ceremony help validate the family’s sense of loss and offer heartfelt support. Since death has such a profound effect on us, families and communities should take as much time as needed to pause and reflect on the loved ones’ life and how the deceased effected their life.
The funeral ceremony or celebration of life is a specifically designated time for family and friends to come together to share stories, inspirations and musical selections that testify to the values and nature of the deceased. They are also an opportunity to show support for the bereaved and recognize that their life has been substantially changed forever by such a loss. Ceremonial services of this nature can provide a sense of order, stability and understanding during what is often a stressful, chaotic time for families.
So how does one cope or find comfort in a time of social isolation when social support is so important?
Here are some things to consider:
- Reach out to friends and family via phone call and video platforms, the best thing you can do for yourself is connect with other
- Spend time meditating with relaxing music
- It’s ok to have a good cry – it will help release tension and anger
- Don’t deny or suppress your grief this will just complicate it
- Prepare your loved one’s favorite meal or desert and recall your favorite memories during the meal
- Light a candle by their photo in their honor
- Use this time to create a collage or scrapbook and later you can make copies for family members
- Journal about your thoughts and feelings for yourself or to share with others
- Consider talking to a grief counselor or joining a grief support group
Midland Care Connection offers a variety of grief support programming available in an online format. Call 785-232-2044 for more information.