Coping with grief
During the coronavirus pandemic, many people may be bereaved of loved ones. Their experience may be made more difficult by a number of factors such as not having their usual sources of support available, the death being unexpected and sudden, or not having been able to be present with their loved one.
We have developed and highlighted resources and links that we hope you find helpful.
The Clinical Psychology Department have produced some information to help support adults following bereavement from coronavirus which can be found here:
There is further information for adults supporting children and young people with grief and bereavement which can be found here:
NUH Services and Support
There are bereavement service teams at both the QMC and City Campus providing information and advice following bereavement. The teams can facilitate the practical arrangements for your loved one, ensuring necessary paperwork is finalised and offering guidance on the processes which need to be completed.
NUH Bereavement Services: https://www.nuh.nhs.uk/bereavement-services
Spiritual and Pastoral Care
The Spiritual and Pastoral Care team is available for support whatever your background or belief. Support can be offered which is faith specific, or simply to offer time to listen and help with making sense of what has happened and understanding.
NUH Spiritual and Pastoral Care Service: https://www.nuh.nhs.uk/spiritual-and-pastoral-care
Managing Grief – Adults
Everyone experiences grief in a different way and it is common to feel many different emotions at different times, sometimes changing quite quickly. Bereavement during the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be more difficult due to potentially sudden and unexpected deaths of loved ones as well as a more challenging environment to live in whilst processing your grief.
Grief and bereavement is not a disorder or a weakness. Experiencing difficult emotions is to be expected in this situation, but that doesn’t always make it easy to deal with. Acknowledging your thoughts and feelings is important. There is no right way to grieve and just because you might be struggling at times does not mean you are ‘not coping.’
- Tell yourself that these feelings are normal, natural and shared by people around you to help remove the pressure of needing to be okay. #ItsOkayToNotBeOkay
- Give yourself time to feel the different emotions present.
- Talk about your loved one with family and friends, and listen to each other’s stories and memories.
- Take breaks and do other activities or talk about different things which can be a welcome distraction.
This page brings together different resources developed by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and offers tips on coping as well as signposting to different organisations and support which can be accessed if you are worried or feel that you need additional help.
NHS mental well-being guides: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-bereavement/
Mind bereavement information: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/bereavement/about-bereavement/
NHS mindfulness - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
Widowed and Young (WAY): https://www.widowedandyoung.org.uk/coronavirus-support/
Support for following the death of a partner under the age of 50 including peer support platforms.
Further support links:
Nottinghamshire Hospice Grief Line: https://www.nottshospice.org/our-care-services/griefline/
Nottinghamshire hospices have introduced a free, confidential service for people in need of emergency grief support with their 7 days a week hour grief line accessible on 0800 111 4451.
Cruse Bereavement Charity: https://www.cruse.org.uk/
Bereavement Trust Charity: https://www.bereavement-trust.org.uk/
Managing Grief – Children and Young People
In the same way as adults will experience lots of different emotions following the death of a loved one, so do children. Children will grieve in their own way and parents may need to be responsive to their child’s reactions to understand what they need in the moment. Below are some key points which can be useful when supporting children through bereavement:
- Some children might not want to talk straight away and will benefit from some space.
- Let children know that you are there for them and available should they want to talk.
- Play or art can be a helpful way for children to express their thoughts and feelings about loss in a more comfortable way.
- Providing lots of physical reassurance and support can demonstrate care when words are more difficult.
- It is okay to show your own emotions when speaking with a child about a death – this gives them permission to show their emotions as well.
NHS mental well-being guides: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/children-and-bereavement/
Cruse Child and Young Adult specific support: https://www.hopeagain.org.uk/
Further Support Links:
Winston’s Wish Charity: https://www.winstonswish.org/
Child Bereavement UK Charity: https://www.childbereavementuk.org/
What to do when someone dies
For many, the funeral of their loved one is an opportunity to say goodbye and connect with family and friends for support with their bereavement. Coronavirus has changed the way in which funerals can be conducted and this can be particularly difficult for people.
Individual funeral directors can give the most up to date advice and guidance on how the coronavirus will impact on this. The guidance is regularly changing with information such as numbers of people able to attend funerals, social distancing for those who are attending and opportunities for others to be included such as live streaming of the service.
Government advice about what to do when someone dies: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Government advice about death and benefits: https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/bereavement
National Association for Funeral Directors funeral advice: https://nafd.org.uk/funeral-advice/
Family and friends are a huge support to us during bereavement. We commonly come together to share our grief which also provides opportunities to talk about and remember those we have lost. Social distancing and lockdown limits the social support that we can access. Whilst we are limited, it is important to try to sustain these relationships or even create new ones.
Social distancing means we have to think creatively about how we stay in touch with our friends and family. Text, call, video-call or email each other to offer a listening ear, shoulder to cry on, recall of a special memory or even a distraction.
Remember socially distanced doesn’t have to mean emotionally distanced.
Looking after Yourself
A disturbed sleep pattern is common during bereavement. Night time offers fewer distractions and our minds can run wild thinking about our loss and so sleep is problematic for many. We hope the following information and advice might be of use:
- Writing a journal allows you to take your thoughts and stories out of your head and externalise them on paper. This gives permission for discontinuing the constant stream of thoughts and hopefully giving a pause to allow for sleep.
- Exercise can help with sleep. Engaging in exercise during the day, although being careful not to push your body too much, can make your body tired and if done outside the natural light helps contribute to a health sleep cycle.
- Do something relaxing for 20 minutes before going to bed – take a bath, read a book or do some mindfulness/breathing exercises.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol after 3pm. Increase your water intake during the day but avoid drinking in the hour before going to bed.
- Only use your bed for sleeping and avoid watching television or using electronic devices at least an hour before doing to bed. Blue light from devices has been shown to contribute to alertness so try using blue light filters prior to sleep.
NHS Sleep support - https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/how-to-get-to-sleep/
NHS bedtime meditation - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio/bedtime-meditation/
NHS sleep apps - https://digital.nhs.uk/services/nhs-apps-library
Eating and Drinking
When bereaved, some people can use food or drink to help manage their emotions. Eating for comfort or using alcohol might seem to help initially but ultimately can cause greater difficulties with sleep and emotionally processing what has happened. Eating smaller amounts of a healthy and varied diet more frequently can help with energy and improving appetite.
Physical activity can be an enormous help with managing our emotional health and managing stress, including bereavement. Whilst lockdown or shielding restrictions can limit what physical exercise we are able to do, staying active using different platforms such as online exercise classes or videos can be really useful.
NHS recommended exercises to try - https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/move-more/home-workout-videos/