Love—And Loss—From a Distance
Clasped hands. A warm embrace. So many of the ways we express affection involve touch, or at the very least, face-to-face contact.
But right now, we can’t always be near loved ones, even at the end of their lives. And mourning our losses looks completely different than anything we’ve experienced.
Caring from Afar
A crisis like a pandemic brings a wide range of emotions, especially if you have loved ones at risk for severe illness. You may feel fear and worry, loneliness, guilt about not doing more, and anger at others or at the virus itself.
Taking these steps can help improve your ability to cope:
- Connect as you can. Use video chat apps or the phone. Consider sending letters, care packages, or postcards. If you’re nearby, visit at a safe social distance or outdoors with staff assistance.
- Center on your purpose. Even before COVID-19, long-distance caregivers worked to ensure their loved ones stayed safe and healthy. Focus on what you can do, such as coordinating information or assisting with finances.
- Recognize your grief. Even if no one has died, you may still be feeling profound loss. You’re missing valuable time and your own sense of security and control. Viewing it in this light can help you understand and process difficult emotions.
- Nourish your body. Paying attention to your own physical needs relieves stress and anxiety, and also ensures you can be there for others.
- Share your feelings. Being open and honest allows others to offer emotional support. If you don’t have anyone to turn to, try a mental health professional. Many more are now offering telehealth sessions.
If you’re struggling severely, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
Grieving Your Losses
When a loved one passes away, mourning is never easy. And the pandemic has made things even more complex and challenging than usual.
Anticipating these emotions may make them easier to handle. Here are some other things you can do:
- Livestream memorial events, if those involved agree
- Hold online group remembrances
- Check in with loved ones by text, phone, or video chat
- Plan to hold an in-person service later on, when more restrictions have lifted
- Look to faith leaders for guidance on ways to seek closure
Even though grief is a natural part of the human experience, it’s still painful. Just remember that you’re not alone. If you need to talk with someone, reach out to set up a virtual visit.
Also, consider joining a support group at Goldstone Caregiver Center, Danbury Hospital, for those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. We’re all here to help each other through these trying times.