Has the Pandemic Changed the Way we Grieve?

Why does grief feel different in 2021? Death has been a discussion of two sides since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. On one hand it is a statistic, a number to be watched closely in the hopes of freedom from lockdowns. On the other, it is a truly personal tragedy. Bereavement’s emotional importance, pandemic or not, should never be overshadowed.

The recent death of the Duke of Edinburgh has highlighted a national sense of remembrance. Since loss has become almost trivialised, it seemed strange to witness such a strong sense of mourning for one individual over the countless others that have lost their lives to the ongoing pandemic. The significance of grief, especially garnered through media attention since Prince Phillip’s death, has been extremely prevalent. But how then can an individual feel a normal sense of grief in a time where death has become so nearly senseless when the loss is far more personal?

For a nation to embark on ceremonial remembrance after the death of a prince is to be anticipated, and proceedings were as expected, a week of mourning followed by a high-profile funeral. This however could make an ordinary individual feel undervalued, an individual (one of many) that has recently lost a loved one or family member could easily feel forgotten and disregarded.

Bereaving in 2021 has become an extremely complicated affair, not only due to the rules and measures in place controlling funerals and those allowed to attend but also the consideration of the sheer number of individuals in a similar position. Some may find this fact almost comforting, to know there is a worldwide sense of mourning for their loved ones alongside those others that have lost their lives; however, others could find this frustrating and only an increase to their loss.

There is support on offer for those grieving, from third parties, helplines such as Sudden or The Samaritans offer an opportunity for those that feel lost to talk about how lonely the process of bereavement in 2021 truly is. The overwhelming pressures faced by the government has arguably made the task of supporting bereaving individuals more challenging and there are arguments that the amount of loss that has occurred can be blamed on government failings, but certainly, this feeling has not been felt by this generation before.

To manage bereavement at any time is an extremely difficult process, but when it is felt on such a wide scale by so many it can become all the more challenging. With rules constantly changing and deaths taking the form of a statistic, more attention needs to be paid to individuals feeling lonely and underappreciated in a time of crisis. 

Rightfully so, the spotlight is very much on recovering from the virus, however, there should be more focus placed on those that have already lost. As the UK comes out from the thralls of this pandemic the losses felt need to be better addressed and the importance of the feelings of those currently grieving needs to be appreciated.

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Harry Hunter

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September 2021
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