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Facing coronavirus

There are precedents for what we, in Australia and all over the world, are facing right now.

Apart from the devastation of the two World Wars in the 20th century, the world was confronted with the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1919 and then the Great Depression of the 1930s. Both created havoc for everyone in the world. But they came separately.

What is unprecedented about COVID-19 is that we are dealing with the impact of a major pandemic as well as the economic impact it’s having on every facet of our lives.

So, most generations of the 20th and 21st Centuries, are in uncharted and difficult waters.

Every aspect of our normal life and routine has been radically changed.

Many of us will know someone who has contracted the virus and will eventually know someone who has died from it, either in Australia or overseas, if that is where our family and friends may be. We also have the worry of the risks to our own health and that of our families. The idea of voluntary isolation is foreign and bewildering. 

The conditions of isolation may mean not being able to be with a loved one at the end of their life. And the idea that they died ‘alone’ may be particularly painful. Grief can also be compounded by the limit on the number of people who can attend a funeral. This is at a time when families need as much support as possible, and relatives and friends need the opportunity to publicly recognise their grief at the loss of someone who is important in their lives.

The economic impact is that our lives are directly affected by losses of jobs, loss of businesses and a generally insecure world in which it’s hard to see quick solutions and an end to the instability which surrounds us. Financial insecurity is at an all-time high and the institutions which we are used to supporting us are struggling to find ways to maintain that support.

For most of us, the result of all this is fear and uncertainty, which are core components of grief, and we are challenged to find a way to deal with these very natural feelings.

You are aware of the basic recommendations from our government and health authorities on living in the COVID-19 environment, and GriefLink is concerned to help you cope with the grief which you very naturally might be feeling.

Talking about your fears is an important first step. Social distancing practices make this difficult, but keeping in touch with family and friends by phone and the Internet is an important way to express the feelings you have. In the absence of access to social contact in the form of support groups and family gatherings, we are left to find creative ways to make contact with people from whom we can seek support. But support is there. Every day we see people making contact with each other through Facebook and other platforms by singing, creating art, sharing information and experiences. We may be isolated, but we are not alone.

Staying in touch with the latest developments in the progress of the pandemic is important, but can be distressing.  It’s important to find a clear and trustworthy source of information, and not be afraid to ask questions about your concerns.

While GriefLink doesn’t offer direct grief counselling support, it has a wide range of resources among the pages which focus on different forms of grief, and some advice about how to deal with them.

Please be assured of our concern for you and our wish for your health and wellbeing in these difficult times.

Additional resources