8 Reasons Your Grief Feels Worse Right Now

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Eleanor Haley


Over the last couple of weeks, we have been flooded with emails, comments, and DMs from people sharing that in this current crisis their grief feels worse. The list of reasons is long and the list of accompanying questions is even longer. So, above all else, let’s start with the one thing we can assure you: if your grief feels worse right now, you are not alone! There are a lot of reasons it is totally normal that a crisis can make grief feel worse.

1. Your bandwidth was already low. Grief can take everything you have, especially in the earliest days. When a crisis hits and you are already depleted, all of a sudden everything becomes more challenging. Things you could have managed before your loss feel insurmountable now. Aspects of your grief that you were managing before the stress or crisis suddenly seem seven times as tricky to manage.

2. The person who died was your ROCK. You might be grieving a person who took care of you. Maybe it is the person who handled practicalities and logistics. Perhaps who checked in on you to make sure you were okay. It could have been the person who made you feel safe. If this is your situation, you’re likely feeling even more acutely aware of their absence than ever. With that, your anxiety might be spiking.

3. You’re feeling especially alone. Grief is almost always an insolating experience. Layer on that quarantine and your feelings of loneliness might be skyrocketing. If you are living alone after your loss, no longer having contact with people by getting out of the house can start to feel like a crushing weight (especially for those extroverts out there).

4. You’re acutely aware that you’re living through this thing your loved one probably never could have imagined. Hmmm . . . that’s clearly a weird one to sum up. But if you get it, you get it. This is a scary and surreal time. Most of us have not lived through anything like this. And there is just this weird thing in grief that happens at moments like this when you realize the world feels fundamentally changed and it is a world your loved one never lived in. It makes us strangely more aware of the passage of time and that the world keeps turning.

5. You’re not thinking about your loved one because of the current crisis. In our emails and comments, we have seen a couple of themes. One is “I am thinking about my loved one all the time”. We’ll get to that. The other is “I am so overwhelmed by the current crisis that I am barely thinking of my loved one or my grief”. The latter seems to be bringing up a lot of guilt for some people.

We won’t tell you not to feel guilty, because that’s not how guilt works. We will tell you that it is totally normal if your brain doesn’t seem to be making space for your grief. Our brains can only handle so much and sometimes, in a self-protective way, they start triaging. They compartmentalize things for us, so we can focus on a pressing matter at hand. If this keeps up long term, it is something worth spending some time with. But give it some time for your acute stress response from this current crisis to settle down.

6. You’re annoyed everyone is complaining about stuff your grief has had you coping with for weeks/months/years. Are your friends suddenly complaining about isolation, overwhelm, and feelings of uncertainty about the future?  Does it sound a lot like what you’ve been coping with for a long time?

Are these things your friends haven’t historically been sympathetic about? Hopefully, this isn’t coming up for you, but we have heard loud and clear that it is coming up for some people. It isn’t that you don’t empathize with your friends. Quite the opposite, in fact. You empathize deeply. It might just feel a little annoying that it took something like this for them to empathize with you.

7. You’re thinking about your loved one. A lot. Research has shown that we don’t just want and miss our loved ones during the good times. We actually really want and miss them in bad times. In times of pain, stress, crisis, and indecision, we often think of and want to be close to the person who died. We imagine what they would have said or done. We find strength in things they taught us. It is actually something that most people find helpful and comforting. But that doesn’t change that it can also bring up tough, bittersweet feelings.

8. You’re imaging that everything would just be better if they were still here. Don’t get me wrong, we do this all the time in grief. But we ESPECIALLY do it when the going gets tough. When life is hard, we often go back to the moment our loved one died and we think, “if only they were still here, everything would be so much better”.

Now, they would be alive, so that would obviously be better. Even if you were trapped at home fighting. Even if it was the same old boring day-to-day. They would be here, so that would mean a whole lot. But the extension that EVERYTHING would be better or easier . . . that’s a different proposition. 

No doubt having them around would make your baseline better – you wouldn’t be coping with grief and this crisis. But as for the rest, we really have no way to know what sort of “different” it would be. In philosophy and psychology, they call this counterfactual thinking – constructing a whole, imaginary reality around things that didn’t actually happen.

We imagine a world if things had gone differently. It might seem harmless enough, but if we’re not aware of it, it can double-down our grief emotions. Why? Because now, instead of just coping with the stress of this crisis and desperately missing the person who died, we’re also bitter or resentful or grieving this idea of what would have been. I know this one is a little abstract. But if you’ve felt it, you probably know what I mean.

These are some of the things we’ve heard already, but we know there are lots of other reasons this current crisis might mean your grief feels worse. Tell us about it in the comments. And let us know how you’re coping! 


https://school.whatsyourgrief.com/p/grief-isolation-covid

Let’s be grief friends.

We post a new article to What’s Your Grief about once a week. Subscribe to stay up to date on all our posts.

Related Blog Posts

Related Blog Posts

See More

65 Comments on "8 Reasons Your Grief Feels Worse Right Now"

Click here to leave a Comment
  1. Naomi  November 22, 2020 at 12:21 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing this post. It’s the first that just felt like someone else might understand the compounded griefs my family and I have experienced the last couple years.

    We lived through a huge natural disaster. Then had to leave the country we were living in. Then my baby girl was born with a terminal genetic disorder and died on March 1. Since then we have had to move three times and had to evacuate because of fires once. I have no idea what our future holds since Covid and visas are making it impossible to get back “home”.

    All of this on top of Covid has felt so overwhelming and it sometimes does feel lonely when people talk about how hard Covid and all the political unrest has been for them. Because everything was already feeling overwhelming for is before Covid hit.

    Anyways, thank you for listening.

  2. My puppy died  November 1, 2020 at 3:56 pm Reply

    Can very much relate to this comment. I had been suffering from disability that left me housebound for years before the pandemic and had the same thing happen with people.

    NOW there are people online experiencing the isolation and grief my illness brought to me years ago and it makes me soooo furious. They never cared for me in the same situation and won’t even admit the error or reach out to me now.

    Before all this I also experienced CPTSD from abuse. So I had been suffering physically and mentally for a long time alone.

    Then I bought a puppy to be my friend and he DIED during the pandemic. Now it’s so hard to find another puppy and I’m just filled with more loss.

    I’m furious and just so incredibly sad. Everyone needs a high dose of empathy. I hoped the pandemic would bring that but actually as you said it just made people MORE selfish and focused on their own fears. They didn’t learn a thing.

    Then there are awful people who seem to be getting through life just fine. Many of them of course are anti-mask because while they are being jerks they also want to endanger the less fortunate just to rub salt in the wounds. Of course they have good immune systems as generally that seems to be the bias of life as I’ve experienced it.

    I am glad you are putting more energy on yourself and not those people – as people like us really need more TLC and not those who don’t care. Dont be another person exploited for your conscientious nature. You deserve so much better and deserve to be properly loved.

  3. My puppy died  November 1, 2020 at 3:27 pm Reply

    My puppy died suddenly of a seizure during this pandemic. I was already isolated because of a chronic illness – that separated me from most friends and family. Then the pandemic hit which furthered my isolation without support. I had saved up for years for a puppy. He was my dream puppy and brought lots of joy into my bleak world. Then he suddenly died and there’s only one other human being to share this experience with. I’m still physically ill and now I sit up in bed in my house that feels like a prison and don’t even have a dog to comfort me.

    Due to the pandemic so many people have been adopting and buying dogs so the demand is very high. There are still some small-large dogs available but I’m only allowed to keep a small dog in my rental. On top of that the vet bills wiped my savings so I don’t even know if I could afford one now even if they miraculously showed up.

    I do feel that bitterness as someone dealing with severe illness that people didn’t show much concern for my isolation or situation. It’s really stung to hear about everyone whinging now it has happened to them for a few months when tbe chronically ill and some disabled endured being housebound for years. It absolutely stinks and I doubt this will be a wake up call to treat the world’s most vulnerable better. In fact there are crazy anti-maskers rubbing their disdain for the wellbeing of others into our face.

    I’m so angry and sad about all the injustice of this and the many losses in my life. People may not have cared about me, but the plight of my little puppy was certainly not fair and he enjoyed being in my life.

    My only hope is people learning some damn compassion.

    • K  November 13, 2020 at 11:51 pm Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear your puppy died. Our fuzzy angels bring us so much comfort, companionship and joy. I hate that this happened to you, especially during such an already difficult time and with your other difficult circumstances. Im thinking of you and hoping things get better.

  4. Lonely  October 17, 2020 at 8:24 pm Reply

    Along time since the last post to this article yet everything still is true… covid still causing isolation and compounded grief. Lost the love of my life 3 years ago after a 6 month battle with an incurable disease. We had been together for 35 years and married for almost 28 years when he died unexpectedly. My out of state 85 year old mom became my rock. She was in great health, active, and loving. We talked twice every day and I visited her 4 or 5 times a year. I spent birthdays and holidays with her so I wouldn’t be alone on those difficult days. Her husband (my step dad of20+ years died unexpectedly in January 2019) so we helped each other. Then mom had an unexpected stroke in August of this year and died in September. Covid restrictions are still in place with new spikes in cases… no funeral, not hugs from friends, etc.
    Now in addition to the grief of losing my mom, I am feeling so alone and grieving for my husband all over again. He would have helped me though my grief of losing my mom, and I wouldn’t have the isolation of living alone during Covid…
    my heart goes out to all who are grieving during this difficult time. The article and comments helped me realize I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed with grief and so incredibly sad and alone.

    3
    • IsabelleS  October 19, 2020 at 11:18 am Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! I am so glad that this article and comment section has communicated to you that, no matter how lonely you feel, you are not alone. My heart goes out to you!

  5. Lost  August 24, 2020 at 10:26 pm Reply

    I am gutted. My husband died, tomorrow it will be 5 months, of cancer, and I feel worse than before. I am broken.

    3
    • John Bloom  August 29, 2020 at 11:32 am Reply

      I can totally sympathize with your pain my fiance past 3 weeks ago so my grief is still fresh having some really really bad days I have a lot of pleasant memories seeing as how we were together for 27 years when I’m feeling really down I just try to think of the good memories as difficult as that sounds it seems to help me just a little I also went back to work to get out of that empty house I’m hoping that your pain subsides sooner than later have a wonderful day sorry for your loss

      1
    • Lisa jones  September 13, 2020 at 2:59 pm Reply

      I understand exactly how you feel, I’m sitting here reading this thread with tears running down my face. My husband died only four weeks ago. He had multiple sclerosis and I was his carer for 15 years, in the later years with carers four times a day. Now there’s nothing! I don’t have my soul mate, my son has just gone off to uni there are no carers no drs no nurses coming in and out of the house, which I would gladly endure to to the end of time to have my husband back home. I am feeling utterly lost we were together for 31 years he died so young only 49 years of age and I see no future without him. I’m heartbroken I’m feeling worse every day.

      2
  6. David  July 14, 2020 at 8:21 pm Reply

    My husband Tom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on April 2, 2020 and was admitted to the hospital, but due to the quarantine, they only let me see him twice in ten days..it was so hard to just find out and then he was taken away. They moved him to hospice on the 13th, and I got to spend the last week with him.. he passed away on April 21, 2020. everything about this post resonates with me….The utter shock of finding out and then being all alone and trying to grieve and plan a funeral during the pandemic is something that will always be hanging over the awful experience of loosing partner of love of 23 years..I have had support and friends call and talk to me all the time, but the utter isolation from everyone and no hugs have been the kind of crazy experience you would not believe could actually happen, until it does.
    I will say reading this post and all the comments have given me comfort knowing I am not alone in this, and the feeling lost and scared on top of the grief is something we all are feeling..
    Prayers and LOVE to everyone going through this.

    1
  7. Ron M  June 24, 2020 at 4:09 pm Reply

    My wife of 34 years died just over a year ago after spending 4 months in a nursing home being treated for pancreatic cancer. We both realized she was dying, but never took time to talk to each other about it. One day she asked me what will I feel and will it hurt when I die? I held her and cried never being able to say anything. She passed a few days later, much sooner than I imagined she would, while I was sleeping. I still have awful feelings of guilt because we never talked. I go to grief conciling every week. It sure helps, and look forward to it. Now it is on Zoom . Grief is an awful thing

  8. Jo Ainsworth  April 15, 2020 at 11:47 am Reply

    My husband passed away unexpectedly just before Christmas. I’m feeling several different emotions currently during this virus. I’m alone dealing with this crisis which magnifies the feeling of despair and the fact that if he was here I know everything would be better. We loved being together and each other’s company and it wouldn’t seem so lonely. The family support network is now only virtual I can’t see them or hug them. The overriding emotion is to do with his treatment in hospital and by doctors prior to his admission. I was working up to putting something in writing which I feel I can’t now do due to the hero status of our health care workers. It makes me feel angry because he was so let down and guilty because my personal experience makes me want to shout out when everyone is clapping for the NHS where were you when we needed you. I know this is irrational and I am joining in with the weekly clapping as this is bigger than me but it’s hard and I am very conflicted.

    1
  9. Donna  April 13, 2020 at 12:54 pm Reply

    Thank you for the article. It helped me make some sense of how I was feeling. I lost my “rock” 5 months ago to a sudden heart attack while we were vacationing on St. Barts. He said “I’ll be right back” and walked down the street and I never saw him again. It was a week before my birthday and 2 weeks before our first anniversary. I made him wait 8 years to get married because I didn’t want to get married again after my awful first marriage. As I write this I start to feel a little better because I’m remembering how much fun we had. I feel adrift without my “rock” because he would know exactly what to do. I’m grateful for this website because you know how I feel and it’s normal.

    1
  10. Jeanette Taylor  April 10, 2020 at 4:38 pm Reply

    Hello all, so sad to be reading all these people’s different stories of their grief.
    I myself have to deal/cope with this emotional feeling. In Dec 17 my father passed away after a 2year battle with Cancer. The day he passed was very unexpected as he was in a good place the day before. Questions asked, no answers given, although we thought something wasn’t quite right. We just accepted my Dad had gone. To make it all worse my Dad wasn’t only Dad, he was Mam too. As our so called mother abandoned 4 of us aged 6 (myself) 5,4 and my 6 month old sister. I admire him so much for keeping us all together though it must have been an emotional & heartbreaking time for him. I love & miss you every day Dad. ?
    Little did I know that 8 months later (Aug 18) worse was to come. My son aged 35 passed away suddenly with Epilepsy (Status Epilepticus).? My world collapsed and I just wanted to die myself in my grief. He was working away down London when this happened (We live up north east uk) and had lain in his room for at least 24 hrs before he was found. This breaks my heart even more to think he was all alone and no one knew. Ironically he roomed above a pub in digs near his work, which would have been full of people on a Saturday night and still he was alone. I can’t get this thought out of my head. The last time I saw him was the week before (30 July 18) when I dropped him off at the train station to go back down London to work. Little did I know then that that goodbye & be careful were the last words I would ever say to him. I now hate birthdays, mother’s day, Xmas anything we used to celebrate together as we always did as a family. As my Son was a big part of them all. As my Daughter says ‘ He was so colourful & unique ‘ and he certainly was. One big plus ( if there can be such a thing in these circumstances) is that my Son had a little boy of his own who was only 4 when his Dad passed away. He brings me so much joy & happiness that it warms my aching heart. Although at the moment I cannot see him due to the restrictions and can’t usually seem him as often as I would like as he now lives over 30 miles away. I do try to have him most weekends normally and we often go to his Dads memorial to lay new flowers. So heartbreaking but I feel they should be near each other whenever possible. My Son idolised his little boy and the feeling is definitely mutual. He says his Daddy is an Angel in the daytime & a big shining star at night. God love him.
    God bless all of you going through these terrible emotions, emphasised more at the moment because of the current crisis.
    Take care all & please be safe?

    1
  11. Robert Lewis  April 6, 2020 at 3:15 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for these tips and all of the other people who shared their stories and why grief at this time is so much more amplified for those who have already lost loved ones. I co-facilitate a grief support group for fathers who have lost loved ones. This is valuable stories to share to help normalize some the feelings expressed by the men in my group with the Children’s Grief Center of NM.

  12. Simon  April 5, 2020 at 10:14 am Reply

    18 months ago my partner who I had been living with left me with her children. I never spoke to them again, although I had been living with them for years and treated them like my own. I loved my family very much

    I never got an explanation. One day I had a family and the next day it just all disappeared. I tried to speak to her to find out what had happened but she refused to talk to me ever again – it was a shock as she had been so kind and loving up to that point , and a best friend.

    I feel bad writing this on here, as I see so many of you have absolutely terrible experiences around death and it makes my heart weep. I feel wrong as though I should not be having grief when so many others are suffering

    But reading the page about traumatic loss , I can only describe all of those effects, as something that I experienced, and am experiencing now. I feel ashamed that I am still suffering even though 18 months has passed

    At the time of the loss, I was utterly confused . I thought that I would communicate with my partner again, if if the relationship was finished – to have some kind of explanation or resolution.
    Even though I am a man, and we are not “supposed to cry”, I really wanted to get in touch with my sadness. I really would like to cry. I can only explain the first three months after the breakup as a form of madness – especially since I got no support. I felt I was going mad.

    These especially resonate with me, from the page on “grief after traumatic loss”:
    “People make comments that minimize grief, discourage expression of grief and discussion of loved ones, and push mourners to move on
    The bereaved may feel they feel ashamed, abnormal, or weak because they continue to struggle”

    I have really tried to move on. I am not a person that dwells. I keep my self busy , and in other circumstance , I enjoy life. I want a new partner, a new family – I am longing for this .

    I think if I knew that the loss was as sudden and irreperable as it turned out to be , and I had the support to allow me to mourn or grief in a safe space, in order to accept that loss, I would not still be turned in knots even now. I hadnt considered this, until I read this page but I think I am traumatised by what happened, and I cant find a way to resolve this, I feel ashamed that I am using this word about myself, especially given that so many people have suffered such grevious events such as death of a loved one, I feel ashamed that I am belittling the concept and others grief.

    And now, like so many others I am living alone day in, day out , trying to move on but haunted by the happy memories that make no sense to me given how things turned out

    I hope it is ok that I shared – I feel no-one else can understand me

    • Carly Carpenter  April 7, 2020 at 3:08 am Reply

      Oh, Simon. I truly understand. My husband took me to his mother’s funeral in a southern State from up North. Afterwards, he left me in our 5th wheel in an rv park with no way to haul it back home. My gold jewélry paid the rent. Not any reason said. Knew no one down here. After 10 years I still don’t know what happened or what I did. I feel so lost still. He had a teen daughter I loved. So we can’t be the only ones that had this abandonment. I certainly understand you.

  13. Karen  April 5, 2020 at 8:05 am Reply

    My husband died on March 7th after a 4.5 months complicated hospitalization for multiple brain hemorrhages caused by a rare AVM. We were together for 32 years. We were able to have his funeral services which I’m grateful for, but the next day quarantined. I feel like I am either in total denial or total despair and move through these two emotional states every day all day. I was hoping to begin to heal but feel trapped in a continuation of the my kids were in when he was in the hospital.

    1
  14. Kathleen  April 3, 2020 at 6:57 pm Reply

    My husband of only four months died unexpectedly on February 20 due to complications following bifemoral aortic bypass surgery.

    We met when I was 50 and he was 62. We’d both had a history of TERRIBLE marriages, and in fact bonded in part because we were both determined never to marry again.

    But we were so, so good together that we knew we had to get married. He made me believe in love. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t scared. He was my best friend, the love of my life, and my reason for living.

    And now he’s gone, and I’m completely alone, and I can’t bear it. It’s too much. All I want is to be with him, but my heart refuses to stop beating.

    Grief counseling and therapy aren’t helping. Nothing helps.

    Tomorrow is Doug’s birthday. I’ll spend it alone, like I spend every minute now.

    It’s Hell. And I can’t escape it.

    1
  15. NB  April 2, 2020 at 2:20 pm Reply

    This was such a helpful article and perspective. My husband had Parkinson’s (diagnosed in 2002), doing okay in the sense he could talk and walk, albeit slowly. He died very unexpectedly at the end of Dec. 2017. At the same time my adult son was in the midst of a severe depression which is since considerably better. He is living with me now. Between trying to care for my son and cope with my husband’s death it took me until almost the end of last year to feel that I wasn’t just walking around in a daze. I had retired in 2014 and decided in 2018 to go back to work part time as an educational consultant and educational therapist. Fortunately during everything going on today I am still able to work virtually as that is about the only time I really feel “okay”. Now I’m finding myself missing my husband more especially, as many have said, he was my rock even though much of the past years he was sick and in the hospital a lot for illness unrelated to but worsened by Parkinson’s. Reading what others are experiencing has been so important. Thank you.

  16. Sarah Kilby  April 2, 2020 at 11:58 am Reply

    My eldest son passed away on 15th March. I came out of 3 days of hell in an ic unit to a world that had changed.
    Now isolating with my other son who is 12 and we’re both finding the lack of contact with others difficult.
    I also lost my partner, the boys’ father in 2008. My grief will never end …

    1
  17. Cathy  April 1, 2020 at 1:56 pm Reply

    My Mom passed away October 1st 2019, and she was 90. Long good life, but she was my rock, best friend.
    I guess I thought she would always be here. My grief has come back and hit me full strength during this crisis. I feel as though she just passed. I just want to talk to her but in a way I’m glad she is not here to experience this as she lived during the depression and always had a fear of not having enough food.
    She made me feel safe even at her age, I could tell her things that I can tell no one else. I feel all alone

    1
  18. JANE MEGLIO  March 30, 2020 at 1:22 pm Reply

    I am so glad to realize I am not going crazy feeling like I do. I lost my husband of 34 years almost a year ago, his year anniversary is coming up on April 18. I was getting so much better but being isolated it now feels as bad as it did last year. My children fir unknown reasons have been in contact much, some unresolved guilt about my husband I assume. As far as the military giving veterans help is not true. My husband was a totally disabled Vietnam Veteran and had to fight fir many years for his 100% disability with lawyers, he only had it fir not even two years and when he dies of service related Agent Orange diseases, they took it away and I had to fight for a part of it for 8 long months, so our Veterans are not treated well at all. I retired @ 70 years old last April 1st, thought it would be funny, but never thought he would die just 3 weeks later, he was doing well and all of sudden he died a horrific very painful and begging to die , I think he made of been over dosed with fentanyl in the nursing home he was in for only 5 days, was told he wouldn’t die from the internal hematoma, but he did! At least he wasn’t in pain any longer and we were able to have a funeral with full military honors and buried in Veteran’s Cemetery, which is very beautiful and peaceful. I was hoping to bring flowers on his first anniversary, but now with this this virus I doubt it will happen. Just wanted to thank you all for your stories they have really helped me to realize what and why I am feeling this way. Thank you ?

    1
  19. Jillian Bain  March 30, 2020 at 2:57 am Reply

    My beautiful daughter died suddenly on 26th Dec, 2019 from a blood clot. She was 14 and the pist mortem could not determine what happened – she was healthy and happy. 3 mths of grief and now isolation with my 12 yr old son. My grief has magnified tenfold. I cannot stop crying for long, everything is upsetting me.

    • Allan Hutchison  April 3, 2020 at 8:29 pm Reply

      I lost my 15 year old daughter to undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes on Dec. 29th 2019
      I am crushed and know how you feel. So sorry for your lose. Being isolated because of the virus makes it even worse. Hope you can find a way through.

  20. Anon  March 29, 2020 at 6:36 pm Reply

    The part about resenting people for complaining about familiar grief feelings resonated with me in a way that surprised me. I am 26, and in the last 4 years I’ve lost my dad, both remaining grandparents, and my little brother. Through all of that, I was lucky to have friends who at least tried to understand, but most of them couldn’t relate, and some didn’t even try.

    I’ve found myself very frustrated because the same people who were nowhere to be found when I reached out for their support during those rapid-fire losses are the same ones who want my help now. It’s a three-pronged annoyance:
    1. It took a global pandemic for you to reach out.
    2. You’re still more concerned with your feelings than anyone else’s.
    3. While you left me to cope on my own, I learned to do just that. Now while I’m going about my business coping as usual, you’re disrupting that process by suddenly demanding my time and energy to help you manage YOUR feelings.

    Until I read this article, I wasn’t able to pin this down as the reason for my annoyance, but it makes perfect sense. Going forward, I will try to be understanding of the fact that these people may be experiencing these feelings for the first time, but I’m also going to limit the amount of time and energy I invest in helping them. I have to save something for myself, too.

    Hope everyone here is able to do the same <3

    2
  21. Cath.  March 29, 2020 at 7:33 am Reply

    Thank you so much for this article. It made such a lot of sense of things I’ve been feeling but not understanding.

    My little sister died of cancer in November, aged just 55, and I’ve been struggling with my grief ever since. But I’d started to be able to look at photos, as another lady has said, without instantly bursting into tears.

    Not any more. My grief has suddenly multiplied and I feel like I’m back to square one.

    Add in the fact that we live for most of the year in Italy, where we’re now seeing thousands and thousands of deaths, some of them friends. And then there’s worry about my elderly mother, the relentless media coverage, the frustration of health and other workers who are at risk, and the isolation from everyone else.

    I’m torn. On the one hand I want to be able to ring my sister and talk about what’s happening, as I always would have done. On the other, I’m glad she didn’t have to deal with the stress of this at the same time as the stress of chemotherapy and all the emotional sadness of knowing for six months that she was going to die.

    How am I coping? I’m not, really, just trying to get through one day at a time. Keeping in touch with my brother-in-law and young nephews via Skype. Working online to try to keep my mind occupied, and trying to join in with online choirs and chats. And I find my two dogs are an enormous comfort. They’ve become my therapy dogs, and they don’t even know it!

    My heart goes out to everyone dealing with all the stresses this virus, combined with grief, brings.

  22. Lorna Burns  March 29, 2020 at 6:55 am Reply

    Thank you for this article, I thought I was the only one… My husband of 22 years passed suddenly 4 weeks ago today. The worst that can happen to me has already happened, without my husband my life is meaningless. Although I worry about my elderly parents at this time, as I now know how quickly and unexpectedly someone can die. I tried to take my own life and spent a week in ICU, where I had to face the reality of re discovering he had died ,all over again.

    1
  23. julie roadknight  March 28, 2020 at 11:53 pm Reply

    thank you for this article. My husband died suddenly 5 months ago and i was wondering why i was experiencing an upsurge of my grief I used to be able to look at his photos but now i burst into tears everytime i look at one.
    When you hear of the number of people who have died from this virus you cannot help but think of all the grieving people out there and I believe only people who have lost a loved one can really appreciate what they are going through.
    again thank you
    julie (australia)

    1
  24. Linda  March 28, 2020 at 11:43 pm Reply

    My husband of 37 years died on February 27, 2020. He was left as a quadriplegic after a botched spinal surgery last May 2019. even though he could not use his arms or his legs he still suffered with extreme pain every day until he finally went on hospice. Unfortunately the morphine caused him to have severe paranoia and hallucinations. So he had to always choose between being in severe pain or being anxious and fearful all the time. I cared for him by myself at home for many months until I just couldn’t do it anymore and Hospice finally said that it was just too much for me physically and emotionally. Over the nine months from after the surgery to today I have a very difficult time eating due to stress. I have lost 75 pounds which I didn’t mind losing a little, but now I’m unhealthy. I just wanted to keep him home with me as long as I could because I couldn’t stand to see him be so fearful all the time and when he was home with me he was a lot calmer and he wasn’t always asking where I was and when I was going to come in. He had always been the one to make me feel safe in my life and I don’t feel safe anymore.
    I thank God for letting me be with him when he died. I had just played a recording that my brother had done for him that was just words kind of off-the-cuff similar to the words from the 23rd Psalm but it was more just him talking to Allen and saying you know about the journey that he would go on and that it was a journey that was worth taking and after Allen listened to that he went to sleep. I had just turned around to call a friend from our group at church and I turned back and noticed that he had stopped breathing. So I thank God also that he wasn’t in pain and he wasn’t fearful when he died those were the two things that I wanted the most.
    Because we had to have him go on Longterm MediCal (we live in California) eventually, and with all their regulations I sold one of the two 2003 vehicles I was now using and most of our belongings so that I could continue to stay in the rental home we had. I had to get rid of my new puppy that I had just gotten before he went into surgery. She is a golden doodle and because I have mental health issues she was going to be trained to be a support dog for me. But, eventually with Medi-Cal taking all of his salary and part of my salary, we lost the rental home that we were in and I had to move into this little tiny dark apartment that I hate and I had to let somebody else adopt my puppy and I had to move away from my church and my friends. I know this sounds a lot like poor me but I feel like I’ve lost almost everything or really everything that meant anything in my life. I had just started going to a Grief Care class at my church that I thought was going to be really helpful and then this COVID-19 virus came along and everything shut down. So I’m alone in this apartment and I can’t concentrate to pay my bills or to do my taxes and I feel so alone. I go from being very depressed to being highly agitated and getting very angry at the people above me who play their music too loud or dogs barking, so I’ll go out on my patio and scream for the dogs to shut up. Yesterday and today were probably the worst days that I’ve had in the last two weeks. This isolation is starting to really get to me and I think I may need to contact my psychologist about going into a medical treatment center. I feel like I want to just pack up some bags and take the things that are really important to me that I do have left and to pack up the jeep then use the four-wheel-drive and go somewhere off road and just to be out in nature and be alone because I’m alone anyway, and just wait for this thing to be over with. I think that we’re looking at several months and I don’t think that I can make it here several months. I haven’t even had a chance to have a service for my husband. He was cremated and I have an urn so I’ll have him with me. I thought when I woke up this morning it was going to be a really good day but when one little thing goes wrong then it changes the whole trajectory of my day and I just don’t know what to do about it. So I know we are all hurting now and the isolation touches each of us differently. I feel for the people who have lost family members to suicide. I lost my father to suicide many years ago and that’s still painful.
    I’m glad that somebody’s finally reaching out and realizing that there’s a whole group of people out here that need more support. I get really angry when I see people online complaining that they have to be in the house with their families and I just want to scream at them telling them to be thankful that they’re with their families. So, I should really say that when I do have good days I do a lot of praying and I have Christian music playing all the time in my apartment to drown out the noise of the thumping music that plays above my apartment. so I do have good days, but lately there’s been very few and that starts to worry me, so I’m thankful that somebody is paying attention to the fact that there’s a whole group of people out here in America who need some extra help right now. Thank you for giving us a place to share how we are feeling.
    If things do get to be too much for me, I have a safety plan in place and know how and where to call or go to make sure I’m safe.

    1
    • Eleanor Haley  March 29, 2020 at 7:06 pm Reply

      Linda – I am so sorry everything feels so hard at the moment. I am especially sad to hear that the Grief Care group you were starting is no longer available. I don’t know if they will move anything to online, but I do know some programs are moving things to online platforms. We will be looking for ways to increase connection around here, so stay tuned. Sending good thoughts.

  25. Wendy  March 28, 2020 at 11:18 pm Reply

    My son died 4.5 years ago. My dog died 2 weeks ago. My birthday was march 16 the day everything shut down and I felt so overwhelmingly alone. I’ve had family and a dog around all my life until 2 weeks ago.
    Thank you for the clarity of this article.

  26. Diana Arnett  March 28, 2020 at 7:33 pm Reply

    My husband of almost 50 years passed away a year and a half ago. We were so close and loved each other dearly. He had a lot of physical and mental problems but, he was my rock and he made me feel so safe when he was here. I have been feeling so much worse lately because of this crisis. I thought it was just me. Your article made me feel not so alone. Thank you!

    1
  27. Roslyn Ridgeway  March 28, 2020 at 7:08 pm Reply

    It is 8 months now, after 43 years of being together, since my husband died. All these messages all show the depths of our feelings and the affect the virus has on our feelings of grief and emotions. It has been with great difficulty BUT because I have worked so hard emotionally the past few months to not let my grief drag me down into an abyss that I have decided I will NOT let this corona virus take everything away again . It is hard work emotionally but we can do this and not let ourselves feel the despair . Remember the good memories and keep finding pathways through the bad times .

  28. John Merrill  March 28, 2020 at 6:21 pm Reply

    My girlfriend of 20 years passed away on 1-19-20 . She had MD, Neuropathy, and Fibromyalgia. Her Neurologist diagnosed her a little over 20 years ago with a rare form of MD–with her other health problems he said she could live 10, 15, 20 more years. When her walking started being affected, she used a cane, a walker, a wheel car then unfortunately became bedridden 8 years ago. I became her live-in Caregiver pretty much 24/7. I stuck with her thru some pretty tough times with her having other health problems also. She died during the night and i found her not breathing. Despite my knowing she would die at some point and time, I was totally unprepared when she passed away because she had not complained about not feeling good etc. so this is why I was shocked. I have really had a really hard time with depression–she was my very best friend along with being my girlfriend. God probably didn’t want her to suffer anymore and took this angel to Heaven. I was with her as she went from using a walker, and then to a wheelchair before she became bedridden. She fought her disease as long as she could before having to give in and become bedridden. I watched her go thru painful times, and was simply amazed and so thankful for fighting as hard as she did. She was a beautiful person inside and out, was very caring and loving, and was a super Christian–because of this, I know that Heaven is a better place. Our dog was put to sleep 9 months ago which I had not gotten over, so this hasn’t helped my depression. I know she is happy with no pain, no problems etc., and she is there with her family, friends, my relatives she met over the years etc. But she also is probably at The Rainbow Bridge playing tug of war with her dog which he loved for her to do with him. Despite my knowing she is in Heaven, I am just grieving very much and am no better than 1-19 when she died–I am hurting very much and really miss her every second and hour of the day.

  29. carol  March 28, 2020 at 6:03 pm Reply

    My husband died in Dec of 2018 on my birthday. I had had a back surgery that did not go well. Basically since then I do not go out often because of the pain I am in. I cannot walk around stores or go for a walk and I was so active before. I did not drive for months! Not only did I lose him but I lost the life I knew. I have been pretty isolated since then, but friends did come to visit that can’t now. Some of my friends do not understand and now they will indicate they don’t know how they can deal with this. ..and they still have their husbands with them. My husband was in a nursing home when he passed and I am so thankful he’s not there because before my surgery I was going there every day, and now I would not be able to – both physically and because of the regulations due to the virus. Since this came about I feel more afraid. It’s not like he was here and could help me, but I tend to picture him as he was before he got Parkinson’s. He was my “safety net.” I have to remind myself how hard it would be to be caregiving right now (as I did before he went to the nursing home). I think it’s just an emotional time for everyone and we start looking back on our lives and thinking how we never dreamed we would experience anything like this. I am so glad you touched on this subject because I didn’t expect to have these feelings come up.

  30. P. Green  March 28, 2020 at 5:47 pm Reply

    I feel the senseless loss of two beautiful people. An elderly couple who were taken care of by my family members who flouted the precautions and warnings related to the coronavirus. Instead, they chose to subscribe to the nonsense of a notorious far-right news station, declaring the virus as a hoax.
    I encouraged safe strategies be unertaken for the couple. My pleas were ignored and precautions were not taken. In one weekend, they died with the virus. I do not live closeby so it was hard to intervene.
    I loved the couple and considered them famil after 35 years of a close relationship. I feel worse, in that I feel their loss could have been prevented. ?

  31. John  March 28, 2020 at 5:29 pm Reply

    Thank you! I can relate to all the reasons listed. My wife of 40years died on Feb 12th, I never knew grief could be like this, luckily I have kids and grandkids that stay in touch. Now with the pandemic, and everybody staying home, it seems that things would be worse, and sometime it is, but there is so much craziness going on in the world, and so many people are dying by themselves and not able to have funerals etc…in a weird way we were fortunate she dyed when she did. We were all together. I feel so sorry for those that were not,

  32. Shellie Link  March 28, 2020 at 5:23 pm Reply

    My husband of 38 years died in September 2019 after an 8 month struggle with cancer. We also lost a 26 year old son 5 years ago to suicide. Our son died in his room in our home, which I still live in at this writing. Coping with those two deaths is devastating enough, but now I cannot escape by visiting friends and coming and going freely because of this damned virus. I am less afraid of the virus than I am of acute anxiety, depression, mental collapse and breakdown. I was an optimist, full of hope; now I dread each day.

    1
    • Bethany  March 28, 2020 at 6:37 pm Reply

      Hi Shellie,
      My name is Bethany. I am so sorry for the loss of your husband and your son. Your comment caught my attention because I too lost my 22 year old daughter to suicide, July 26, 2018. I still have my husband and I cannot imagine the way you are feeling with the loss of both. What I can relate to, besides the loss of our children, is the fear you have of the mental breakdown, anxiety and depression. Far more frightening than any virus, especially for those of us who know how debilitating depression and anxiety can be.
      I have major depressive disorder, for which I take medication. When my daughter, our only child, passed away, I truly thought I would never survive, let alone live again and know joy again. I started to slip away into that dark place over the past month and have fought to not go there. I fear mostly that should I go in that bad place, I won’t make it out again. I tried to figure out what, besides the COVid19 crisis isolation, have I been doing or NOT doing these past few weeks. I’m crying a lot more, several times each day, sleeping a lot more, and not reading GODS word as often as I was prior to the virus.
      I know for a fact that only GOD can give me what I need to keep me from fading away. Even though I don’t feel much like praying or reading my Bible, I know from the early days of losing my daughter, when I couldn’t barely walk or breathe, I forced myself to talk to GOD and stay in HIS word. In the beginning I didn’t notice HIS presence, though I knew HE must be somewhere near me, HE wasn’t answering my questions. Or so I thought. Long story short, for the first 9 months of my daughters death, GOD was working on me and changing me in amazing ways that I never dreamed possible.
      I started reading my Bible again and talking to GOD several times throughout my day. Though I can’t realize the many ways that GOD is keeping me above water, ( you know, can’t see the forest for all the trees?) just knowing that HE is faithful, never changing and that HE loves me, is really all I need to know. Trust Him and when you don’t know what else to do or say, say, “I trust you Lord!”
      My prayers are with you Shellie. Reading your words and knowing the grief of losing a child to suicide is a common factor between us, has helped me feel much less alone. I hope you don’t mind my writing to you. Remember that GOD is in control and HE knows what is best for us, even though we don’t understand the reasons why, HE does.
      God bless you and keep you in His loving hands.
      Bethany

  33. Karen  March 28, 2020 at 4:52 pm Reply

    My honey passed 9 months ago. Tomorrow is his birthday. Married 47 years. I may have handled much due to his disability, but he was my rock. I was special to him. He knew me as well as I knew him. We could finish each other sentences. But most of all, he made me laugh. Through thick n thin he was funny. I think being in this situation is being alone with no physical touch of another human is the absolute worse. It may be why people in hospitals are suffering so much. We were not meant to live isolated. Especially after a long marriage. I miss my kids and my grands. I want hugs and kisses. I just want to hold hands. I’m sad and alone even with friends and family. I miss church. I pray but feel even distanced from my God at times.

    1
  34. Gail Earman  March 28, 2020 at 4:45 pm Reply

    I lost my wife 3 months ago today and have hardly begun to recover. Then add this damn virus and all the isolation everyone has to abide by, it just magnifies an already very difficult time in my life. I can barely function no matter how I try, but there is no one to talk to, no one who cares because everyones thoughts are on themselves. I don’t blame them, I just realize how unimportant someone who is grieving alone is now abandon. I hurt so bad and no one cares any more. 3 mo. is not very long to be left alone & abandon. Your article hit every feeling. Thank you for that.

  35. Janet Bucknell  March 28, 2020 at 4:34 pm Reply

    So many similar feelings. In my third year without my beloved husband. I’m surprisingly in the early stages of a new relationship. So confused. Missing by husband more than ever, whilst at same time missing my ‘new’ man. Very upsetting.
    Stay safe all x

  36. GaryB  March 28, 2020 at 4:22 pm Reply

    Dealing with all this without my wife of 38 years who passed away in 2018-totally BLOWS!
    She was always the solid one that would make everyone else around her feel fine.
    It just highlights the loss even more making as I enter year 2 even worse than last year.
    This is never going to get better is it?

    1
  37. Tina Derke  March 28, 2020 at 4:06 pm Reply

    My husband died two years ago on April 3. I have been dealing with the grief, climbing out of the trenches, trying to live with the loss. When this caronavirus shut down hit, I was faced with handling it all alone and the grief and fear escalated. My son lives across the country so I worry about him constantly. I want him here with me. I want my husband here with me. I cannot tolerate even hearing jokes about couples getting on each other’s nerves. I know we would have considered it a plus to hunker down together and enjoy each other through it. And I would be far less fearful and stressed. I am trying not to resent everyone having someone with them when I am all alone!

    1
    • Naishia, Curtis's daughter.  April 2, 2020 at 5:57 pm Reply

      Hi Tina,
      My name is Naishia. I lost my dad on November 2nd, 2019 and today makes five months. And on the 6th, it’ll be his 46th birthday. I noticed that tomorrow will be your husband’s anniversary so I wanted to reach out and spread some love and encouragement your way. I’m still here, wondering how I’ll be when it hits a year, or two, or ten. And then I read blogs, and comments, and talk to those from my support group that have lost their loved one over a year ago and I see that the grief is still so powerful. And that scares me but one thing that I see a lot, and I seen in your comment, is that no matter how hard grief gets over time, you are still standing. At one point, I was ready to take my life. I was so ready to end the pain. I feel your pain and I know how extreme it really is but Tina, YOU ARE STILL STANDING! Your are still surviving every single unbearable day. Even if most of those days are filled with so much pain and sorrow, you still wake up every single day and get through it. I don’t know if you’ve heard this recently, but I want to tell you that I am proud of you. And you inspire me, you showed me that I can and I will continue to get through these painful days of grief. I hope tomorrow your husband sends you nothing but love from the beautiful sky above. I will pray for you tonight. May God, or the universe, whichever you believe in, sends you nothing but strength to tackle another painful day. Your are strong Tina, you are brave, you are beautiful. May tomorrow and the rest of your days be filled with some sort of joy and peace.

      1
  38. Gillian Wen  March 27, 2020 at 7:57 pm Reply

    My Dad died on March 1st. Dealing with that and friends and family spread across Western Canada and England was stressful enough but then Corona ramped up the stress. I’m told that I was lucky we buried him when we did because the next day all burials were cancelled and we wouldn’t have been able to have a Celebration of Life with over 40 people. I DON’T feel lucky. Though after reading the message of the person who was caught on the other side of the cutoff I feel deep sympathy for her and her family. I still don’t feel lucky but relieved that it isn’t worse. My personal crisis is lost amongst the wider chaos.??

  39. Dira McClintock  March 27, 2020 at 2:17 am Reply

    yesterday I was angry that you and others were calling peoples response to Cover-19 was like grief, I felt it minimized by grief, but today I see it.. because my grief is waving back, hope it doesn’t become a tsunami. Yes to all your examples, for me the biggest is the loneliness. I have kept myself very busy, physically, socially, mentally over the last year or so to help contain the grief thoughts to a few hours a day.. Now I am here alone and have too many hours to think about my grief.. feeling sorry for myself and guilty about that because so many have it worse.. But on the other hand jealous of others who at least have their husbands at home, during this time. someone to talk to, watch a movie with, play cards with, garden with, make cookies with.

    • Wynn  August 14, 2020 at 9:29 am Reply

      I know how you feel. My husband died suddenly on 15th Dec 2019. I thought I was coping ok until now I feel overwhelmed with grief. I feel sad when my friends are going out for drives here and there. I used to do that a lot with my husband. Taking the dog to our favourite beauty spot and having a bite of lunch somewhere. Now I feel shut in . No laughs or banter. You can’t live with someone for 56 years and not miss them greatly. I hope it gets better for us.

      1
  40. Debbie Buckley  March 26, 2020 at 2:39 pm Reply

    My husband passed away in December. These points are really ringing true with me. It’s good to realise that there are others feeling like this. Thank you Claire for sharing this article

  41. Tammy Dewberry  March 26, 2020 at 2:09 pm Reply

    My husband of 32 years passed away March 20th, less than a week ago. His funeral was immediate family only. We have been isolated in our grief with none of the usual support. No one can come hug us, no one can bring food, nothing. I had to tell my mother and sister to stay home so they didn’t risk carrying the virus back with them. It’s a very lonely place to be. I was upset about his funeral but I suppose it will only get worse now for those who lose loved ones. At least there was a funeral and at least I had the family we built with me. His sons and adult grandson had to act as his pallbearers because no one else could come. It’s all just so hard.

  42. Carole  March 26, 2020 at 1:32 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing what I’ve been feeling. My husband passed away 10 months ago and this pandemic has made it seem like yesterday. All the feelings have resurfaced along with some new ones. His absence has been magnified by the self isolation. I often think about what our reality would have been a year ago if the pandemic had hit – many hospital visits, hospitalizations, treatments, and the funeral. All of that would look different today. So if there’s a silver lining in all of this it’s that he and I don’t have to walk the horrible journey that some are walking with this virus on top of a terminal illness.

    I do believe the absence of having to go to work and do the “daily routine“ has opened up space in my brain to process some of the grief that I must have put on a shelf. Perhaps another silver lining ?‍♀️

    Be kind to yourself everyone and let the feelings happen. They’ll move through you and somehow that then feels better.

    • Morgan  March 27, 2020 at 12:38 pm Reply

      Wow, Carole. Pretty much every word of this feels like I could have written it. You describe all the feelings I’ve been having exactly. My husband died in January after a battle with cancer and I relate to every single word you wrote. Thank you for sharing. ❤️

  43. Brandi  March 26, 2020 at 12:53 pm Reply

    Thank you for this!
    I am a little over a year into my grief after losing my husband suddenly. He was absolutely my ROCK and voice of reason so it’s been extremely hard to navigate this crisis without him. I think I am experiencing all of these! I just haven’t been able to voice all that I feel but this helps me to understand my thoughts and anxieties. I will come back and re-read this every chance I get.

    Thank you
    B

  44. Natalie  March 26, 2020 at 10:57 am Reply

    Thank you, this validates my thoughts
    My exhaustion is from me using so much energy trying to be ok, its like I was 3 years ago.
    I wonder what my late husband would have done in this situation, however I have no answer to this question.
    Thank you

  45. louise  March 26, 2020 at 10:51 am Reply

    I can totally relate to most of the above points. I was already very angry that I lost my Dad and best friend 3 weeks ago to cancer but now I’m even more angry and upset that damn Corona virus is ruining the funeral plans .

    1
  46. Angela  March 26, 2020 at 10:44 am Reply

    Suddenly people are now checking that myself and kids are ok when 8months on most had disappeared and carried in with their own lives!

  47. Cathy  March 26, 2020 at 10:04 am Reply

    I relate to this one: You’re acutely aware that you’re living through this thing your loved one probably never could have imagined.

    I’ve felt it several times, including when Trump was elected and when there have been big happenings with our kids.

  48. Leigh Rippon  March 26, 2020 at 6:51 am Reply

    Please add people are suddenly confronting an awareness of mortality, yet this is an awareness that we have carried since we lost our loved ones.
    Also its OK not to feel OK.
    Take care x

  49. Patti  March 26, 2020 at 6:37 am Reply

    Yes!! I get so frustrated when I see troops returning from a six month deployment and the people acting like oh my God I had to hold my breath this whole time. I’ve had to be mom and dad to the kids this whole time. And on and on. How about those of us who had to do it for over 20 years now by ourselves, while none of you had any empathy or offered us a helping hand… Raising our kids alone, worrying about who will take care of my children if I have to have emergency surgery, etc. And oh, isn’t the military 100% voluntary?? And doesn’t the military do all kinds of stuff to support you as the family that the rest of us don’t get to enjoy? So they signed up on purpose… They knew they would be away… You knew they would be away… And the odds were very strong that they would be coming back to you alive.

    • Beth  March 26, 2020 at 6:57 am Reply

      Are you bashing on the military? I’m a widow of someone who died of a service related disability and the military and government have not been good to me and just like the civilians that were in our lives pretty much everyone abandoned me when they couldn’t deal with my grief.

  50. Rosali  March 26, 2020 at 5:36 am Reply

    To me, it’s extra hard not being able to have a decent funeral for my mom. She died shortly before Corona really turned our world upside down but we had to postpone the funeral, not knowing when we are gonna be able to let it take place. It upset me last week when I had to make the decision – while I have gotten more used to it by now. But still, it feels like the grief of going through the funeral is out there … waiting for me … in an uncertain amount of time.

    Thank you, Litsa and Elenor, for this page. It has helped me deal with all the aspects of grief. Virtual hugs from Germany Xx

Leave a Comment

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. Required fields are marked *