When I work with bereavement, I explore with clients how the time between the passing and the funeral can feel like the most difficult part, and often the funeral will provide closure. In the current climate, many people will not be afforded this opportunity, something we have always historically taken for granted. Some services will proceed with only a handful of guests from the immediate family, whilst others will have no mourners at all. I can only imagine how this must feel for people, to not be with their loved ones to share an extremely emotionally charged event; the physical isolation producing an emotional isolation, which can often have an even more profound impact.
In my time as a therapist I have worked with a lot of bereavement, and in all honesty each new client elicits very different emotions within me. There is no specific strategy in dealing with grief, like most things it is down to the individual and what coping strategies they are readily able to locate. We do not all go through the stages of grief in the same way or in the same time period, in fact some of us may skip through or oscillate between stages. It is important to allow yourself that time to grieve. It’s OK to feel sad; it’s OK to miss somebody; it’s OK to have days when you lack motivation; it’s OK to cry. Most importantly, it’s OK to have a bad day. Be patient with yourself and allow that time to move through the grieving process.
When you are supporting others keep in mind they may have very different ways of handling grief. In that instant it’s about them and what they want and not about what you feel they need or should be doing. By letting them know you are there should they need you, you are empowering them to move through the process in their own way and in their own time, whilst also providing them with the knowledge and security that they have the support as and when they need it. The most important question you can ask somebody experiencing grief is ‘what would you like from me?’
Remember just because you may not be able to attend a service, does not mean you cannot grieve and find your own way to gain that closure. Again it’s about finding what works for you whether that is a memorial or celebration in another format.
Please stay safe and be kind to yourselves and each other. Remember it’s not about the event, it’s about the individual and their response. Grief is a very individual thing and not something we can attach a universal process to, nor should we try.