Published on
21 May 2020

Although we wrote this article early on in the coronavirus pandemic, it might still be helpful for your family as things continue to develop.

The current circumstances have presented challenges and worries for all of us. Psychologists believe that what we’re experiencing as a community is close to grief: for the freedom to live our lives as we once did, for being suddenly isolated from friends and loved ones, and for dealing with an uncertain future.

We’re all likely to experience the stages of shock, denial, anger and depression during this time, and we’ve discussed many ways to address those in our Coronavirus Advice Hub.

However, anyone coping with those same losses that everyone is struggling with whilst also having to process the death of a loved one will be experiencing a different kind of turmoil.

If you’ve lost someone recently or an anniversary is coming up, being able to grieve and celebrate the life of your loved one is even harder right now. Children may also feel the loss more acutely and might worry about your physical wellbeing. You may not have been able to have a farewell that provides closure, or have the comforting company of friends and family.

If you’re going through this, we’ve got some advice to help deal with loss during isolation:

Stay connected

Being human means being connected. We are born with a need to connect to others and to show empathy. At a time when you can’t pop out and see someone for a cup of tea or coffee it’s still important to stay connected so try a phone or video call when you can sit down with a hot drink together. Make every effort to stay connected to your friends and family.

Bereavement article

Get exercise and fresh air

If you can (and depending on the latest advice by the government), try to get outside either in the garden if you have one, take a walk or try an online exercise class which can all help your wellbeing and mood and decrease stress and anxiety. But also make sure that you look after yourself and rest, don’t feel guilty if you are struggling

Talk to a counsellor

Talking to friends and family helps a great deal but sometimes it can be easier talking to a stranger/someone impartial who can help you look at things in a different way. Cruse offer adults bereavement support, contact their freephone helpline on 0808 808 1677. For adults who want advice about a child or young person who has been bereaved, you can call Barnardo’s NI Child Bereavement Service on 07867372711 (Monday, Tuesday and Friday 10am -1pm) or read our leaflet.

Reach out to others struggling

If you know someone else who is finding things difficult or is grieving you could help by dropping off some shopping or essentials to their doorstep or even sending some flowers as a small gesture to let them know you’re thinking of them

Remember your loved one

The limitations around funerals and memorial services at the moment make grieving for your loved one very difficult.

The children and families we are currently supporting have come up with a lovely way of remembering their loved ones during lockdown, by making a star and decorating it with images that remind them of the person or writing a short note to that person. These stars are being displaying around the house or in windows as a reminder of that person.

Michelle Scullion

Barnardo’s Child Bereavement Service

You can also create a space filled with memories of your loved one with a tribute fund. It can easily be set up, and allows friends and family to come together to share pictures, stories and memories.

If Barnardo’s was close to the heart of your loved one, you may want to give donations to help provide support for vulnerable children and young people.​​​​​​