After losing someone to COVID-19, it's normal to feel angry, sad, and isolated

Personalized text messages give grievers a safe way to get support from a distance.

As the death toll continues to rise, bereavement experts are working hard to respond to the wide range of emotions people experience after losing someone to COVID-19. Anger, guilt and sadness are compounded by the pain of not being with loved ones at the end. Worse still is that COVID-19 forces people to grieve alone, without the funerals, support groups, and visits from neighbors they would normally rely on.

This week Grief Coach launched a new series of text messages for grievers wrestling with these emotions and realities. One of the benefits of text-based bereavement support is that it can be delivered safely, from a distance, anywhere in the world. We send texts to help with feelings such as:

  • Sadness if you couldn't be with your loved one at the end.
  • Frustration about delayed access to testing or treatment.
  • Guilt or worry that you may have unknowingly exposed your loved one to the virus.
  • A lack of closure if you weren't able to host a funeral, shiva or other ritual to honor your loved one.
  • Anger with friends, neighbors and others who aren't following local guidelines.

We also text practical suggestions to grievers, as well as to friends and family who want to help, but need to do that from a distance. We text suggestions about:

  • Ways to come to terms with not being able to be with your loved one at the end.
  • Suggestions about home rituals as a way to remember the person you've lost and create comfort and connection for the living.
  • Thoughtful sympathy gifts you can send to a grieving loved one, that they won't need to handle (no flowers!)

I'm so grateful to Laura Takacs at Virginia Mason Grief Services, for her help making sure our texts for COVID survivors are thoughtful, appropriate and helpful. Laura's daily reality now includes working to support COVID survivors, caregivers and medical professionals too. I never imagined having to add a new cause of death to the Grief Coach system, so am particularly thankful to Laura and our other expert contributors, for helping us to very quickly provide the personalized grief support that so many people now need.

Next I was already dealing with my mom’s death. Now a global pandemic has taken away my senior year