The COVID-19 pandemic changed many daily aspects of our lives, including how we communicate, shop and work. The grieving process is another pivotal way the pandemic impacted our lives, says Jill Englar, director of bereavement at BridgingLife.
Due to the need for social distancing during the pandemic, funerals were held differently, places of worship were less accessible and various traditions practiced following a person’s death were being changed or left out. Grieving after a death can also often be compounded by the loss of a job, income, a sense of safety and one’s daily routines, she says.
“The biggest change in hospice bereavement is that the bereaved are feeling more isolated, disconnected and in need of more than our routine support,” says Englar.
With few people to turn to, many reached out to bereavement counselors at BridgingLife for grief support. In 2020, the bereavement team saw a 25 percent increase in people seeking grief support via phone, office and/or home visits compared to 2019, according to Englar. That’s an increase of almost 200 individuals.
Bereavement counselors have been providing support of a longer period. “Normally we provide up to 13 months of support visits or calls to the bereaved and then follow up by sending them literature. But, since the pandemic, people
want monthly or even weekly calls over the usual bereavement service period,” Englar says.
Individuals who are grieving need support to help them build a sense of resiliency so they can effectively cope with their grief.
Some strategies Englar recommends to cope with grief during the pandemic and beyond include:
• Practicing self-care and being kind to yourself
• Acknowledging feelings of loss and giving yourself permission to grieve
• Finding a moment of calm within the chaos of your day
• Connecting with friends and family in person (if possible), via phone or virtually
• Reaching out for support, such as contacting BridgingLife
To learn more about our free grief support services, call 410-871-8000.