Family Grieving During COVID-19
For many of you, Governor Newsom’s mandate to “Stay At Home” during the Covid-19 pandemic is received as a welcome break from the often-challenging task of juggling the many roles of a grieving parent while you work to support the family and handle your own feelings. Now you can skip the commute, avoid the rush to one or more schools, to your workplace, to after school activities and childcare, running errands –– and instead just stay home together.
OR…. this may sound absolutely dreadful to you!
Before the mandate, you and your children got a break during the week from the sadness that is often present for grieving families. Your children had the distraction of school and friends to help them cope with their grief. Similarly, you had the benefit of work and co-workers/friends to temporarily distract you from your grief. And now you don’t!
Furthermore, you have no idea how long this “new normal” will go on. This leaves us with two choices: fight it and each other or try to make the most of this time together, knowing one day it will be over and you may long for this togetherness again. The Internet abounds with suggestions for family-centered activities, mindfulness practices, strategies, and funny YouTube videos to choose from to fill this time…but what about your grief?
Although your grief groups are temporarily shuttered because of the virus, your group leaders and the staff at OUR HOUSE think of you every day, holding you in our thoughts and hearts.
We know you might be thinking, “If only my______were still alive, things would be easier or better.” Your children might be thinking, “If only my _______ were alive,” too. Your children might likely be worried that you or themselves might now die from the virus.
Here are some suggestions for your grief while social distancing:
- Try talking about these thoughts and fears as a family
- Offer reassurance that by staying home and practicing physical distance you will most likely not get the virus and if you do you will recover from it
- Try doing an activity together in honor of your person who died
- If you can, consider bringing out photo albums or home movies to share with your kids along with stories about your loved one
- And, if the tears come, let them, knowing the pain will ease and the tears will stop again.
Here are some recommended activities/books if you need a place to start:
- A Toolkit from the NAGC, Responding to Change and Loss, In Support of Children, Teens & Families
- When Someone Dies: A Child-Caregiver Activity Book
OUR HOUSE staff are available to lend support by phone during the temporary cessation of groups and to offer referrals if needed. Call us at 310-473-1511.
Lauren Schneider, LCSW is the Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Programs at OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center in Los Angeles.
She is an authority on children’s grief and the author of “Children Grieve Too: a handbook for parents of grieving children” as well as “My Memory Book…for grieving children.”