Grief in lockdown: How to find support.
Covid-19 has made many things more complicated. Not just funeral services, with number restrictions and new regulations, but many of the other services that people rely on in difficult times.
We know that these times are making things so much harder for you
The last six months have made it much harder to say goodbye our friends and loved ones. Lockdown, isolation and shielding have led many people to be unable or unwilling to receive visitors. This means it may have been hard or impossible to see them or you may have not been able to spend as much time with loved ones as you would have hoped.
We recognise that restrictions around funeral services have also made things painful. Many people have not been able to attend many people not being able to show their respects or attend in the same way. Even if you were able to attend the funeral yourself, you may not feel your loved one got the send off they deserved.
With so much grief and anxiety everywhere, you may feel that your grief is not as important, or that people are not interested. This isn’t true, and you need to make sure that you are getting the support you need. Your feelings are just as valid as anybody else’s and regardless of what else is going on in the world.
It’s been a tough and lonely summer for many people, and as we head into a second lockdown, finding support amongst your family and friends can be especially difficult. Not only that but many of the activities that may have provided comfort or company are not available.
However it’s really important that you find the support you need, and do what you can to take care of yourself and your grieving mind and heart.
1. Sunshine. That’s easier said than done at this time of year, but getting outside for some fresh air and exercise is a really good idea, whenever possible. Make sure you at least go for a walk for a few minutes every day. Ask friends if they will come and walk with you, which will give you some company too.
2. Eat Well. Prioritise these for yourself, even if you don’t feel like doing much else. Make sure you have regular meals and drink plenty of water. You may feel like eating comforting foods, or things that are high in fat and sugar, but try to include some fruit and veg in there too. Eating well will help you feel better, even if you don’t feel like it at the time.
3. Sleep Well. Sleep can also be difficult when you are grieving, but is vital if you are to feel stronger during the day. If you are struggling to sleep, make it a priority to sort that out. There are plenty of places online that will give you sleep tips but cutting down on caffeine, avoiding screens before bed and having a relaxing and consistent night time routine can all help.
4. Keep in touch. Although you may not be able to see people, there are other ways to keep in touch with others. Having someone who checks in with you regularly makes it easier for them to be able to tell if you’re struggling, and easier for you to talk about how you’re feeling as part of a normal conversation. Telephone calls, Zoom calls, Whatsapp messages, Facebook are all good ways to keep talking.
5. Ask for help. Lockdown means there are less opportunities to see people and it might mean you have to make more effort. However, it will be worth it. It’s important that you get the help you need so practice asking for it. Text a friend asking to meet them for a walk, or even say “I’m struggling to go to the supermarket, could you drop some things off for me?” Often people don’t know how to help so clear instructions can be useful.
6. Find ways to express your grief. Many people find that having a creative outlet can be soothing in difficult times. It could be writing in a diary every day, It could be that you try painting, drawing or some other crafts. You don’t have to be good at them, but just doing something physical that acknowledges how you are feeling can get out a lot of feelings which you may be bottling up. Working in the garden can also feel like an accomplishment, and maybe dedicate an area to your loved one. Now is the perfect time to plant bulbs to appear in the springtime.
7. Find support online. Social Media has opened up the world in lots of ways, good and bad. Social media is a good way to keep in touch with people when you don’t feel up to talking, and you can also meet new people online who could give support. There are some valuable online communities (see our guide below) which can provide inspiration or support, and could put you in touch with other people in a similar position.
8. But be careful. Social media can be a double edged sword, and you may find it overwhelming. If you are struggling to cope with updates from other people, they might be complaining about small things, or celebrating something special, then don’t feel guilty about taking a break. You are not obliged to see what people are up to. Likewise, the news can contain difficult and distressing news stories at the moment so be mindful of your own feelings and turn it off if necessary.
9. Be gentle with yourself. These are difficult times for everyone, especially the bereaved. Grief is different for everyone, and can change in lots of different ways over time. It’s not a linear process and every day won’t necessarily be better than the last, but they might not be worse either. Listen to what your mind and body is telling you that you need and make taking care of yourself a priority.
10. Know when you need more. If you are struggling with how you feel, so go and see your GP, even during lockdown. They may be able to help, or arrange the necessary support.
Times may be strange, but we are here to help you in our grief.
Online and personal support
A helpful website with lots of useful information and articles
Helpful Facebook Pages