COVID-19 Related Loss
Much of the media coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic has focused on the number of people who are gravely ill and who have died from the virus. As of April 2022, the worldwide death toll is over six million (WHO Coronavirus Dashboard). Although we see and hear these numbers daily, we rarely hear about those who are experiencing mourning and grief. According to Cadell (2021, para. 11), “it is estimated that for every one person who dies, there are five left grieving those loses.” However, as noted in the previous sections of this chapter, grief is not just a reaction to death but can also be tied to other forms of loss.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have experienced loss on multiple levels. There is the loss tied to physical, economic, and housing security. There is the psychological toll tied to a lack of emotional and physical connection, relationships, and mental health support that help us through difficult times (Cadell, 2021; CMHA, 2014). We are also losing a sense of predictability in or control over our lives, including our ability to protect our loved ones, especially the most vulnerable (children, elderly) (Weir, 2020). And there are the losses associated with the pandemic’s impact on healthcare, education, and world economic stability and peace (Weir, 2020). Not only does postponing, curtailing, or eliminating end-of-life rituals impact both how we mourn the dead and grieve, it impacts how we grieve all of these losses (Cadell, 2021; Phillips, 2021).
The Need for a National Grief Strategy
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the importance and necessity of the government implementation of a national grief strategy (Cadell, 2021). This strategy could include public awareness campaigns, educational initiatives, and increased funding for grief-related research. Such a strategy would help us to better understand and deal with grief, recognize grief in ourselves, and better support one another through grief (Cadell, 2021, p.). Since the Canadian Grief Alliance (CGA) was formed by the Canadian Virtual Hospice in 2020, it has called for government funding of a national strategy (Cadell, 2021). As of March 2022, the CGA is still waiting for government funding and action. In the interim, every November since 2017, the CHPCA has sponsored a National Grief and Bereavement Day to encourage “Canadians to engage government and all sectors of Canadian society in a national dialogue to identify and support access to necessary resources for those living with grief and bereavement” (CHPCA, n.d.-b, para. 1) (See Grief and Bereavement Day Poster in Chapter Section on Understanding Grief). The importance of the initiative has grown exponentially due to COVID-19.
Click the links below to learn more about grief in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic: