Coronavirus and the Six Needs of Mourning

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Alongside the physical pandemic, the novel coronavirus is causing a pandemic of grief.  That's what we're all felling right now-grief.  It's important to recognize that. 

Grief is everything we think and feel inside of us whenever our attachments are threatened, harmed, or severed.  We experience shock and disbelief.  We are anxious, which is a form of fear.  We become sad and possibly lonely.  We get angry. We feel guilty or regretful.  The sum total of all these and any other thoughts and feelings we are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic is our grief. 

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How to Talk to Children About the Coronavirus Pandemic

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

As the coronavirus spreads across North America and our daily lives are transformed, we all must be aware of the need for good mental-health care. Obviously, it’s a stressful time. Families are confined to their homes. School is canceled. Many businesses are closed. Workers are being laid off en masse, causing financial distress. And then there is the illness itself, COVID-19. Will we or someone we love become critically ill or even die? We are all naturally worried about the “what ifs” and “what nexts.”

The youngest among us are not immune to all of this stress. They sense it in the adults around them, and they see it on social media and other sources of information. Their own day-to-day routines have been completely disrupted.

When it comes to painful, complex realities, it can be difficult to know how much we should share with children. Many people have an instinct to protect kids. But as someone who has worked with and advocated for grieving children for many decades, I’ve learned that what they really need is honesty combined with steadfast care.

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This Pandemic of Grief

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

The coronavirus is not only causing a viral pandemic—it is giving rise to a pandemic of grief. As I write this, in mid-March, we as a global community are suffering so many losses that I hardly know where to begin.

Death and grief go hand-in-hand, of course. Thousands of people have already died of COVID-19 worldwide. Many more are dying right now. These are terrible losses for the loved ones of these precious individuals, and they will need our support and empathy in the months to come.

Yet what strikes me at this moment is that this aggressive new virus is threatening every single person on Earth with myriad losses of every kind. Name something you care about or that gives your life meaning. In all likelihood, this attachment is now negatively affected or threatened in some way by the coronavirus.

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Funerals in the Time of Coronavirus: Thoughts for Families

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Needless to say, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is a challenging time for everyone. But if someone you love has died, it is likely that the current social distancing orders and travel restrictions are making funeral planning especially difficult for your family.

Losing a loved one is hard enough. Losing a loved one at a time of unprecedented upheaval and limitations may seem overwhelming. I am sorry you have been put in this position, and I hope this article will help your family find ways to meet your mourning needs and honor the person who died while making any necessary adjustments to keep everyone safe.

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