22nd Feb 2021
As we mourn and grieve the loss of those we love so dearly, many of us would ever have never have thought we’d see the day when we can’t attend their funeral. That we were not allowed to physically present to say our goodbyes, to celebrate the life they lived for fear of spreading Covid-19, felt as unnatural to us as the virus itself.
We had no choice but to adjust to a different kind of bereavement. To help as we adjust to a life post-pandemic, the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has now launched a free bereavement resource pack, Support for Grieving in Exceptional Times, as an aid to help those grieving, particularly as we approach the striking and sad figure of over 4,000 COVID-19 related deaths.
It includes all the resources developed as part of IHF’s Care & Inform hub which was specially created to respond to the needs of those facing bereavement during COVID-19 restrictions, as well as advice and guidance on acknowledging and coping with grief from a COVID-19 death, what to expect when planning a funeral as well as helping children deal with loss and grief.
“The pandemic restrictions make everything seem strange, with normal routines disrupted. This is especially the case for people bereaved during this time, who find themselves planning a funeral and trying to cope with the loss of an important person in their life. Our hope for this pack is to provide information and assurance for people who are bereaved and some insights for those who want to help them,” said Orla Keegan, Head of Education and Bereavement Services at IHF.
Helping children grieve
The pack also includes three resources for those supporting bereaved children as the response to the pandemic continues: Helping children grieve during COVID-19, Supporting teenagers to grieve during COVID-19 and Finding new ways for children to say goodbye. Each one has been developed with IHF’s Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN).
The coordinator of the ICBN is Maura Keating explained that even in difficult circumstances, it was better to be upfront with children. “The best thing to do is to give them honest, age-appropriate information about death. It’s painful to see a child upset, but children cope better with sad news when they are told the truth. These resources are centred around adapting and developing new ways around supporting children and each other grieve until the crisis passes,” she said.
IHF also runs Ireland’s only national Bereavement Support Line. It’s a freephone service, 1800 80 70 77 and is available Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm. It’s for anyone experiencing grief and loss; a COVID-19 related death or a death from other causes or maybe a previous loss is feeling more difficult during the current restrictions.
The Support for Grieving in Exceptional Times is available to download for free from www.hospicefoundation.ie