CONSUMER HEALTH

Mental Health Awareness: Grief and Bereavement During the Pandemic 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of a loved one can be particularly devastating. Traditions and rituals that ordinarily would comfort and heal are no longer available. We may not be able to be present at death, to say goodbye, or to hold a funeral and other family and community gatherings afterwards. These constraints can affect people’s ability both to request and to offer support after a loss.  

“The bereaved feel more alone without these important traditions and rituals, and they may be at greater risk of extended and complicated grief,” says Toby C. Tider, LCSW, an Englewood Health social worker who practices at The Park Medical Group. “As a result, it is essential that we build a community team response to help those who have lost someone to COVID-19, through a comprehensive approach to managing grief.” 

“Sometimes when we are emotionally shattered by a death, we have no idea how to get relief,” Tider adds, explaining that it is important to understand that asking for help can be an essential part of healing. 

Englewood Health offers access to mental health services for those trying to cope with bereavement after a COVID-19 loss. The Englewood Health Physician Network provides in-office and telehealth mental health counseling, and community-based and individual support systems are available. 

Assistance is available whether you are a widow, widower, adult child, grandchild, or friend struggling to cope with grief. Begin by speaking to your Englewood Health primary care doctor, who can identify a professional to help you connect with individual and group support resources, as well as spiritual and peer support within the community.  

Tider adds, “The support from community, friends, and family is an essential part of healing from the loss of someone you loved. It is not meant to be done alone, so please ask for help.”    

Tips for Supporting Those in Bereavement

  • Reach out to those who have had the loss, to offer kind words and a sympathetic ear.
  • Replace in-person visits with frequent phone calls or video chats.
  • Identify a key person to set up and manage the grief support system for the family.
  • Establish a community approach to support the bereaved: draw upon friends and community members to assist with practical needs such as cooking or delivering meals and picking up groceries, as well as to provide emotional support through daily check-in calls, cards, and offers to listen.
  • Offer to access and connect with professionals, including physicians, mental health professionals, grief specialists, and clergy, on behalf of the family.

Posted June 3, 2020