We are grieving our rituals, our routines and the familiarity of our day-to-day activities. For those of us who have a history with grief (especially the unexpected kind), those previous losses may be re-ignited and awakened.
The virus has caused upheavals in our social lives, work routines, relationships, schools and childcare – this is causing great anxiety and there is no template for dealing with this pandemic. Much like there is no template or guide for grief. We know grief can be messy. It is cyclical and lingers around important events, words not said, certain songs, and moments captured like photographs in our minds. It is not a place we can always ignore.
In our recent coronavirus impact survey, 22% of those who responded had lost a loved one to meningitis and each had their own unique experience of dealing with the outbreak of coronavirus and the lockdown period.
The majority of people reported that their meningitis experience affected them in some way before the pandemic began, with as many as 70% reporting a negative impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing and many of these reported feeling a little or a lot worse since the outbreak.
“Meningitis stole my son’s life and as a parent the feeling of helplessness will be with me forever”
“Not having my usual distractions has resurfaced a new deep grief within me”
Many of the concerns and worries that bereaved people reported were similar to those shared by other supporters around relationships, feeling connected, employment and financial worries and accessing services, as well as Covid-19 itself.
“I’m scared that coronavirus will take someone close to me as quickly as meningitis did”
“…being stuck in the house with memories of my daughter has been so hard”
On the other hand, for others who have lost loved ones, this time has also alleviated some of the daily stresses and strains that the burden of grief can sometimes bring – such as a fast pace of life, interactions with friends, neighbours and colleagues, unwanted reminders and comparisons from those whose lives have not been devastated by meningitis.
People have found time to exercise more, enjoy quality time with family and experienced less pressure schooling and working from home.
“I have been able to separate myself from people and not have to come up with excuses as to why I don’t want to be around them. It has helped me to grieve in some ways as I have just been able to let out all of my emotions”
“Reminders from the outside world were removed, such as school children returning to school after half term break, trips my daughter had been looking forward to with school friends were cancelled - it's hard.”
There is no escaping information about coronavirus at this time and constant updates can keep us in a state of agitation. Our normal life has already been interrupted by social and travel restrictions. Grieving at this time of social separation means that our normal support networks of friends and family are not available in the same way. In particular those who have lost a partner or a parent and those who are not living with a partner might feel desperately alone in their grief. Children - particularly those who have lost a sibling – may feel the family dynamics have changed once again.
If any of this applies to you, please know that you are not alone. The Support team at Meningitis Now are here for you. When asked what we can do for you and your families right now, one of the most common responses was the need for reassurance. But please reach out to us if we can support you and your family at this difficult time.
“Knowing you are there is enough”
“Carry on being a light in the darkness like you always have”