Mourning during quarantine is a concrete reality in an increasing number of families. Worldwide, there are now over 200,000 deaths from Coronavirus and everything suggests that the numbers will increase in the coming months, until truly suitable therapies or a vaccine are found.
All this has led to a significant increase in deaths in many countries, especially in Europe and North America. To these losses must be added those due to foreseeable deaths (old age, previous pathologies or other causes), in addition to those who could not receive adequate assistance due to the saturation of intensive care in some areas.
We are experiencing a period marked by a high number of deaths in which people cannot say goodbye to their loved ones as they always have.
What to expect in case of bereavement during quarantine?
The death of a loved one is one of those situations in which we most need human contact. A moment of fragility, during which we feel our soul breaking, and sharing it with the rest of loved ones relieves the pain.
At present, this sharing is impossible, so living a bereavement during quarantine can trigger several consequences:
- Stress levels can increase significantly, as being isolated makes it harder to manage this new situation. Stress can alter our heart rhythm, cause us insomnia, nightmares, headaches or intestinal disorders, among other symptoms.
- Our emotions can further intensify due to the stress of isolation.
- We may find it difficult to mourn, precisely because we cannot celebrate a funeral service in the traditional way.
- Accepting reality becomes complicated: if we do not live with the deceased person and therefore do not notice his physical absence, at some moments we may have the impression that he is still alive.
What are the most common emotions in bereavement?
The thoughts, feelings and emotions that grip us in the face of the death of a loved one are many: the little ones can become more irascible and have more fears, while adolescents and adults tend to be sadder and lacking in enthusiasm. However, we must remember that each of us processes mourning in our own way.
Regardless of how we will process the grief, emotions will be the protagonists in the early stages. Among the most common are:
Sadness is the emotion most often associated with bereavement. It can manifest itself in the form of tears, but also with lack of energy, lack of interest in caring for oneself, pessimistic thoughts or little interest in what surrounds us.
During mourning, it is important to find a space and time to feel sadness; by doing so we will not repress it and we will process it better.
But it is equally important to carry out activities that take us away from it for a few moments. If not, it is easy for the emotion to turn into depression and for it to become more complicated to manage.
Fear is easily heightened during mourning. We can be afraid that someone dear to us may die, of not knowing how to manage the situation or of falling ill if the deceased person suffers from a disease, of driving if the death was caused by an accident. There is also fear for his own death and for many other “ghosts” that may emerge at such a moment.
We have to learn to live with our fears to reduce them. Strategies such as cognitive restructuring or systematic desensitization can help us manage them effectively.
When we do not accept a situation or consider it unfair, anger often arises. This can become a real obstacle if we don’t learn to manage it properly. Learning breathing and relaxation techniques or self-control techniques can be of great help.
Sense of guilt
Guilt can invade our thoughts if we think we are not doing things right. To overcome it, we must learn to forgive ourselves and all the people we think have not acted correctly in the face of a situation.
Strategies for grieving during quarantine
The key difference is that, at present, most people cannot take leave of the deceased. Some hospitalized patients may share their last words over the phone or video conference, but that’s not always possible.
Moreover, during the state of alert, funeral ceremonies were prohibited. Up to 15 people can attend the burial to date. For this reason, it is important to take some strategies into account.
Prepare a ritual to say goodbye
Even if we cannot physically take leave of the deceased, we can prepare a form of greeting: a letter, a drawing for the youngest children, we could collect the most significant photos or write a poem for the deceased person. These are some of the possible ideas.
Avoid social isolation
Even if there are no hugs, it is important to share our feelings with our loved ones. Technology allows us to make phone calls, video calls, exchange written or voice messages.
We use these tools to ask if we need something in particular and to communicate our emotions to others. The pain will be equally profound, but if shared, it will be easier to bear.
Let the feelings surface to experience a bereavement during the quarantine
Clearly , negative emotions during bereavement intensify. So we don’t have to avoid them, but we have to let them flow. The more we avoid them, the longer the suffering will last.
Handle negative thoughts
What we repeat to ourselves while we are grieving is the key to our emotional well-being. For this reason it is important to be aware of our thoughts: are they too negative?
Crying releases stress hormones and has a calming effect. In the face of the loss of a loved one, sadness is inevitable. If this feeling is accompanied by tears, it will help us to manage emotions better.
Write to grieve during quarantine
Writing is a highly therapeutic strategy in many psychological disorders. Since we cannot relate to others as we would like, writing will help us not feel so alone, to know ourselves better, to better connect with our emotions and to express what is not difficult to convey in words.
Playing sports lowers the levels of stress, anger and anxiety and is especially recommended when we are feeling sad. It is therefore important to take action to get better, whether it is moving around at home or training outside, in compliance with the rules in force.
Concluding recommendations in case of bereavement in quarantine
Mourning makes us feel very intense pain. On this path we encounter many difficulties. At present, one of these is having to live it in isolation, without being able to share our pain as we usually do.
Despite the enormous difficulty it represents, it is important to remember that this situation is conjunctural. Later, we will be able to organize a more elaborate wake, with the rest of the relatives and with the closest friends.
While waiting for that moment to arrive, we must continue with the other stages that characterize the elaboration of a bereavement. To do this, it is essential to get in touch with our emotions and not avoid them.
If shared with the rest of the family, we will feel closer to them, we will strengthen our bonds, and that connection will help us manage the pain better.