One of the most difficult challenge during the pandemic is helping the bereaved find the help they need. Grief Counseling and other mental health aides became suddenly unavailable for many who needed the counseling and care. The bereaved, those with mental illness, or substance abuse found themselves without the outside world and coping mechanisms. Furthermore, those experiencing loss were left without the normal social norms to cope with grief. Funerals were no longer public and many were left without the social support they needed to grieve a loss. Others grieved the loss of normalcy in life.
The amount of loss during the pandemic from human life to simply losing a job cannot be underestimated. Individuals grieved major losses but also minor losses. Many felt ashamed to grieve the loss of simpler things when others lost jobs or even family members. Those who did lose loved ones were left without outlets to express their loss. Many became disenfranchised with their losses. Others became anxious in the uncertainty, lack of leadership, and unorganized response by government to the pandemic. These anxieties also left many concerned and grieving.
In these uncertain times, things became available through other forms of connection. Teleconferences with counselors became a new norm. Telegrief services to help others manage their grief became extremely important and still are extremely important. These services allow individuals to find validation in their grief when other social norms are not available.
With so much widespread grief, it was critical to be able to help isolated individuals and family units ways to express their losses, whether large or small, and telegrief and telecounseling became excellent ways to give isolated individuals the help they needed to express grief and find the help they needed.
This also opened new venues for grief counselors who may before had been tied to only one geographical location or area. Grief Counselors can help individuals across the nation through skype or other online media services. They can provide the professional grief counseling care needed to help individuals express their grief. Those suffering from mental disorders or substance abuse issues are also able to find the much needed help they need from licensed professional counselors.
So while the pandemic created new problems for the grieving it also created new solutions and allowed technology to present answers to existing issues.
It is still important as the pandemic continues for those experiencing loss to seek help. There are still thousands losing family members to COVID19. They face situations where funeral arrangements become far more difficult to procure in public due to local restrictions. Others are grieving loss of income and job or a standard of life they once enjoyed. The simple loss of a dinner in public or the ability to go to the store without a mask is a hardship for many. It is important not to degrade the small things during this collective loss. It is important to acknowledge all losses and not to feel guilty over it.
Grief Counselors and licensed counselors can both help grievers through telegrief services find the help and guidance they need to confront these losses and move forward in the future recovery. It is critical that noone is left behind in grief when the economy and public spheres become completely open again. The only way for full recovery is to have mentally healthy individuals who can cope with the grief and the loss caused by the pandemic.
When helping those affected by COVID19, it is important for grief counselors to identify the loss and not marginalize it. If it is not a smaller loss but a major loss, it is important for grief counselors to realize that collectively, the entire family may be dealing with the same loss and dealing with it in different ways.
Grief Counselors in school settings need to identify that many children are grieving the loss of a normal life. Many are experiencing family losses, change in qualify life at home due to parent’s job loss, as well as other ways of life. It is important to try to validate children’s losses and allow them to express. It is also important for families at home who face the losses to receive the education and information needed to cope. This also has to be presented in a safe way that reduces the risk of transmission of the virus. Many remote presentations may be needed in sharing information.
Whether children or adults, it is scary time. Grief and loss and uncertainty tie the nation together in one anxious know. It is critical to help stabilize uncertain situations with solid plans that identify the issues, look for temporary solutions and promise eventual returns to normalcy.
The pandemic has forced behavioral healthcare providers as well as healthcare in general to look outside the box. Utilizing technology and applying good grief theory to the problems presented by the pandemic, grief counselors can help the grieving find the coping strategies, guidance and hope they need.
If you would like to learn more about grief counseling training or would like to become a certified grief counselor, then please review The American Academy of Grief’s, Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.