The Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to cause rising levels of deaths. Official statistics note that, at the time of this issue, over 37,000 people have died in the United Kingdom and there have been high numbers in the USA, Spain, Italy, France and Brazil.
Funeral Service Restrictions
Despite a range of efforts by scientific and medical teams in all countries, nothing has prepared populations for the swift spread of the coronavirus. Social isolation, grieving at a distance, restrictions on family get-togethers and restrictions on attendance at funeral services have caused many people considerable emotional stress and anxiety. In particular, many family members, friends, colleagues and neighbours of the deceased person have experienced difficulty in coming to terms with their feelings of sadness, loss or grief in isolation. The major impact for many mourners is that they have been unable to say their last goodbyes or mourn and share happy memories with others due to social restrictions.
As a result, people have expressed their personal anxieties on how best to communicate with family members of a deceased person following a “time lapse” caused by social isolation or distancing. In a recently published book “Independent Thinking on… Loss – A Little Book About Bereavement for Schools” by Ian Gilbert, in conjunction with his three children, he discuss es the depth of loss, suffering and sorrow at the death of Ian’s wife and their mother. The book focuses mainly on the support or otherwise they have received. In particular, they discuss a range of tips of “what to do and not what to do” for family members, work colleagues, friends and professionals when children, young people or adults have experienced bereavement.
Analysis of Bereavement
In an easily read and insightful text, Gilbert discusses many background research projects linking loss to a range of adverse outcomes, including mental-health illness, reduced aspirations for the future, symptoms of depression and a potential link to homelessness, alcohol or drug dependency. His analysis of bereavement as a process rather than an event is extremely helpful particularly for those persons coping with sudden deaths. The key factor is that we need to come to terms with the fact that the process of loss evolves with you, but it never ends.
At this extraordinary time in world history, with the chaos caused by the pandemic having repercussions in every country of the world in terms of individual isolation, shutdown of schools, colleges, places of work, shops, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities, the opportunity to share grieving and happy memories may well be weeks or months following a death.
“The Process of Loss”
The book gives readers excellent practical support on how to approach individuals who have suffered from and experienced the ”process of loss”, including the initial aftermath.
The coronavirus, in common with mental-health illness, does not discriminate. It pays no attention to your age, family background, income, wealth, status at work or even fitness levels, as experience in recent weeks has shown. Reading this excellent book will give parents, relatives, teachers, work colleagues and friends of those suffering loss increased awareness of a range of skills and personal confidence to address bereavement as a topic that can be talked about and acknowledged, rather than something to shy away from or leave to someone else.
Author: Ian Gilbert et al
Book Review by John Morris