If you’re living with a life-limiting illness, caring for a loved one with a life-limiting illness or have recently lost a loved one, you may be feeling the impact of COVID-19 more acutely.
Your mental and emotional hauora may already be strained. Adding external stress and instability can be harder to cope with than it would be otherwise. Taking care of your mental health during the response to coronavirus is especially important.
First and foremost, give yourself permission to acknowledge and feel what this is bringing up for you and communicate that with your support system.
Think through who might be best to support you in what you’re experiencing. Is it needing help with practical and logistical issues or needing someone to talk to and express your concerns?
Here are a few things you can do to support yourself:
- Try not to become emotionally isolated. Even if people cannot visit you, allow them to offer their condolences and support in different ways; you may receive texts, emails and messages through social media as well as phone calls.
- Try to allow yourself to feel and react in a way that is natural to you.
- Keep conversations going with the people who are closest to you, your family or close circle of friends.
- Even if those closest to you are not physically near, reach out to them and make sure to telephone someone each day.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs. Your body has needs and grief is hard work.
- Try getting outside if possible.
- Keeping some routine can be helpful and mealtimes play an important part in this. So too, does bed-time and getting-up time. Try to stick to your normal routine as much as possible.
- If there are children in your family, check in with them often. Answer their questions honestly. Don’t ‘fob them off’. Children may appear sad and happy in the space of minutes. It can be likened to jumping in an out of the puddles. Let children set their own pace.
- Try to limit how much news and social media you consume – when you are feeling sad, it can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly.
What can you do to help someone who is grieving?