Coronavirus Bereavement Information

Bereavement Point Support During Covid-19 Situation

We appreciate the loss of a loved one is very difficult at any time and the current situation may make coping with a loss even more difficult. Normally we would be writing to bereaved families to let them know about support available through our Bereavement Point groups in Coventry and Rugby. We’re obviously not able to offer these groups at the moment but would like to offer support where and how we’re able.

You or other members of your family/friends may find it useful to have someone to talk to who is not an immediate family member or close friend. As part of our wider bereavement service, we have trained volunteers who are able to speak to you on the phone and offer support. This might be particularly useful for elderly people living alone who may be lonely or isolated, but is open to all. If this would be helpful please contact one of us and we can arrange this for you. We hope to be able to reopen our support sessions as soon as the current restrictions are lifted and information about the groups normal times and venues are enclosed.

We have also included with this letter some information about coping with loss during this time which may be useful, but if you have a specific question we may be able to help with please feel free to call or email using the details below

If you have any questions about any aspects of our chaplaincy or our bereavement service please contact Simon Betteridge on 024 7696 7511 simon.betteridge@uhcw.nhs.uk or Pam Martin 024 7696 5833 pamela.martin@uhcw.nhs.uk

 

Simon Betteridge                                                     Pam Martin

(Lead Chaplain                                                        (Medical Examiners Officer &

 & Bereavement Service Manager)                          Bereavement Office Manager)

 

Funerals

 When someone dies we usually have a funeral service. Funerals are important because:

  • They help to make the death seem real.
  • They give us a chance to share our thoughts and feelings about the person who died.
  • It helps us say goodbye to the person.
  • They bring families and friends together to support each other.

Under the current restrictions enforced by the Government during the Coronavirus crisis, funerals and cremations may be disrupted or delayed. The number of family members permitted to attend a funeral has been limited. Many people who are grieving the death of someone close may be in isolation and unable to attend funerals. This will clearly cause a great deal of upset and will be distressing. If you have not been able to attend the funeral of a loved one or haven’t been able to have the type of funeral you would have had, there are things that might be helpful to consider.

  • Ask the funeral director if the service can be recorded or live streamed.
  • Write or record a message to be read out or played at the funeral.
  • Set aside the time while the funeral is taking place to have your own memorial at home, this might include:
    • Looking at photographs and pictures.
    • Play some of the person’s favourite music.
    • Write a message to them.
    • Light a candle.
    • Follow any of your own cultural or religious rituals.
  • Ask someone who is attending the funeral to call you afterwards.
  • Hold your own memorial at a later date when the restrictions are lifted.

 

Losing someone as a result of Coronavirus

If someone dies of coronavirus or complications resulting from the virus, a number of things may be particularly hard for family and friends to deal with. Infection controls may mean that family members do not have an opportunity to spend time with someone who is dying, or to say goodbye in person.

Depending on the person, the illness may have progressed and become serious very quickly, which can lead to feelings of shock. If they were not able to be present for the death and cannot view the body, it may be difficult to accept the reality of a loss.

At times of considerable trauma, people tend to look for certainty. However at the moment, that certainty is not there. This can amplify any feelings of angst and distress. Bereaved people may be exposed to stories in the media which highlight the traumatic nature of death in these circumstances. Or they may have witnessed distressing scenes directly. Because of pressure on health services, friends or family may also have concerns about the care the person received before they died. This in turn can lead to feelings of anger and guilt.

Things you can do to help yourself might include talking things through with friends and family. This can be done remotely if you or they are isolating. If you are feeling very distressed, share your feelings with someone you trust or you can call one of our Compassionate Communities team.

 

Grief and Isolation

Being bereaved can be a very lonely time. Talking with friends and family can be one of the most helpful ways to cope after someone close to us dies. Our advice is usually to avoid spending lots of time alone. But at the moment many of us need to self-isolate so that we don’t catch the coronavirus, or pass it on to others. Grieving while being alone can mean that:

  • Your feelings of loneliness and grief are stronger.
  • You might have to stay by yourself in a place you shared with the person who has died. This can bring up painful memories.
  • If you are living with a family in the same house, you may be able to support each other. But sometimes being together all the time can lead to tension or arguments.
  • It is harder to deal with your grief because everyone is also worried about the coronavirus situation.
  • You may be left without someone to share your feelings with, or to help you with meals and shopping.

There are some things that you could do to help yourself and others who have experienced a loss including:

  • Keep in touch with others using the phone, text, internet or social media.
  • Look after yourself and get rest. Try to get some fresh air or sunlight each day – even opening a window can help.
  • Keep to a regular routine.
  • Ask for practical help from friends, family or neighbours.
  • Don’t feel guilty if you are struggling.

It may be good to consider thinking about recording messages from a mobile phone, or transferring and/or printing photos from a device before or soon after your relative or friend dies or had died. It may cause further distress if, in the future, you find a loved one’s voice messages have been erased from phones and precious photos are lost.

 

Supporting others

At this time we may all have experiences where we’re struggling and need others to help and support us. You can help those around you by staying in contact and especially with bereaved friends and family (even if you cannot visit in person if you or they are isolating). It may be good to send a letter or card as receiving something physical can be important.

You can phone and let them talk about how they are feeling and about the person who has died as talking can be one of the most helpful things for expressing grief after someone dies.

If you know of a friend or family member who can’t go to the funeral of someone close, you could support them by staying in touch after the funeral and let them know you are thinking of them. You could also find ways of sharing your memories of the person who died.

 

Further help and support

Compassionate Communities (Coventry & Rugby) email uhc-tr.compassionatecommunities@nhs.net or call 024 7696 5131

https://www.cruse.org.uk/

https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/relationships-family/bereavement/