Relief and grief after lockdown

When life in lockdown comes to an end, I am sure that we will all feel an initial flood of relief and will be excited to return to the things in our lives that seemed so normal to us before. But what if your life before included the death of a child? Or what if, during lockdown, your child died from COVID-19 or a pre-existing condition?

Social distancing from those who would have been supporting you with your grief in these scenarios can only have made an unbearable situation even worse. Perhaps those people who would - in normal circumstances - have been there to support you, have now experienced their own loss. Or, if nothing else, they will have been - or may still be - under additional pressure in their own lives.

Bereaved parents will often tell us of the isolation they feel when their child has died. Finding the right words to describe their situation in the best of times can be incredibly difficult. Perhaps some parents will find comfort in knowing that many others have lost family members too, but I fear that many will experience that their loss goes unnoticed in amongst the increasing numbers of deaths.

There is no hierarchy in grief, but it is felt uniquely and, as such, each person who is experiencing it will need to be encouraged in a way that is most helpful to them. For families supported during their child’s illness by Rainbow Trust, their Family Support Worker will have been adapting their contact during this time - especially if their child has died. Wherever possible, we will have been available for parents to talk to - and will continue to be there for parents and siblings, to help them find ways to remember and find words to express their feelings. We know that finding a safe space to express some of their emotions will both comfort and nurture them.

For bereaved parents, lockdown will have been an intense experience: locked away from support or perhaps locked in with their grief. On the other side, they will need to reengage with a changed world - perhaps sharing their loss for the first time, or being able to find support with those who gave it before.

The death of a child before or during the pandemic will have altered the parents' experience of bereavement and will therefore add an additional dimension for them to manage. As Family Support Workers, we will continue to tailor bereavement support to each individual family and will be on hand to help them negotiate through this added dimension to their loss.

Bereavement support is one of the many ways a Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker can support the parents, siblings and family of a child who has died. To make a referral or find out more, please visit our support pages.