Social Distancing and Grief

Posted on August 3, 2020 by Lifesong Funerals under cremation
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Access to grief resources is among Tallahassee cremation services offered for families of loved ones who have died. Social distancing is a new term that has emerged out of novel coronavirus now sweeping across the globe.

Social distancing is limiting our amount of exposure to everyone else around us. Since there is so little known about how the novel coronavirus actually infects people – and who might be infectious and for how long – social distancing seems to give humans the best shot at keeping themselves from infecting other people or becoming infected themselves.

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However, social distancing, though a pragmatic solution, creates a lot of emotional turmoil by its very nature.

We know that people who are older, who have existing health problems or who are terminally ill, or who have weakened autoimmune systems are more vulnerable to being infected with the novel coronavirus and dying from it.

However, especially in a familial sense, those are the very people – our loved ones – that we want to be around during their last days on earth. Even if they are dying because they’ve been infected with the novel coronavirus, we don’t want them to die alone.

But social distancing, which is rigorously enforced by hospitals and by care facilities, makes it impossible for us to be with our dying loved ones. They are dying alone. We may experience guilt that they’re dying alone, and we may experience intense sorrow that they are dying alone, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Their grief is that they are surrounded, not by their families at the end of their lives, but strangers. Our grief is that we can’t be there with them to comfort them and take care of them as they take their last breaths.

That is one aspect of grief that is magnified because of social distancing. The other aspect of grief that is magnified because of social distancing is the grief we experience after our loved ones die.

Because of social distancing limitations, we can’t have the traditional funeral rituals that are associated with death. Visitations, funeral services, memorial services, and funeral receptions are all designed to pay tribute to our loved ones and to have comfort and support around us as we say goodbye to our loved ones.

These funeral events are usually well-attended by friends, distant family members, neighbors, and other people we know. It’s in this collective of mourning that our loved ones are honored, and our grief is assuaged.

cremation servicesThere is no such honor for our loved ones or outlet for our grief with social distancing. Even if we have a virtual service of some sort for our loved one that people can attend or view online, it’s not the same as having people there in person.

Our grief, then, becomes more private, within the 10 or less people at the funeral home or even within our own homes, if we decide to do a small service at home ourselves until the restrictions have been lifted and the funeral home can do a full service for us.

We all grieve publicly and privately when we lose a loved one. But the public grieving – right at the beginning, when we need it most – has been removed from the equation with the novel coronavirus. We are left with nothing but private grief.

That can be hard because people have an even shorter window of expectation that you’ll move on in your grief, and this can include people who would have been among the mourners. Because they didn’t participate, it’s less real for them and they may project that feeling on to you.

If you want to know more about grief resources and Tallahassee cremation services, our compassionate and experienced staff at Lifesong Funerals & Cremations can help.

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