Bereavement during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
Losing a child is one of the most painful experiences anyone can go through. We understand that grieving the death of your child during the pandemic may have been especially hard.
Having to socially isolate added to feelings of grief and loneliness. Although we no longer have to isolate, some of what we learned is still useful and we’ve included this on this page.
Funerals now restrictions have been lifted
Across the UK, there is now no restriction on the number of people who can attend a funeral. The place that it’s being held might still have restrictions to accommodate people safely. Check with them if they have any restrictions in place
Although there is no longer a requirement to self isolate if you have COVID-19 symptoms there are guidelines about living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19, from the UK Government.
However some people may choose to self isolate if they have symptoms particularly if they have concerns about those who are more vulnerable to coronavirus.
Some funeral venues are continuing to offer video links live so who ever can’t attend a funeral in person can still be there, you can ask if this is possible.
Funeral Directors and Celebrants may still be able to help with other options such as a live video link of the funeral or a recording for friends and relatives to watch remotely.
If this is not possible, the script of the funeral ceremony could be shared with relatives so they can read it and perhaps play the same music being played at the funeral to make their own private ritual at home.
Perhaps relatives who can’t attend can record themselves saying a poem which could be played or choose one to be read out
A candle could be lit at the funeral service at a certain time and those at home could light one at the same time
Family members could make origami hearts, butterflies or birds and write messages which can be taken to the funeral.)
You might want to consider a virtual family get together afterwards on a platform such as Zoom if not everyone can come in person.
Further information about funerals can be read in this booklet.
We have some tips below if you need to self-isolate while grieving.
Tips for coping with grief
Firstly, while you may feel alone know that you don’t have to be alone with your grief. We are here for you – we have a helpline or you can get in touch via email or Facebook and Instagram direct messages .
You can join our private Bereavement Support Facebook Group. Membership is open to all bereaved families who have experienced the death of a baby or young child. Reading what others are posting can be comforting to see that others feel similarly to you. You are welcome to post in the group and get support directly from other parents there.
Many parents find it helpful to have the support of another bereaved parent who is further on since their own bereavement. It can be encouraging to speak with someone who has been through the sudden death of a baby or young child; we can put you in touch with one of our Befrienders.
Stay in contact with friends and family by message, phone or video call. You might like to show friends and family our advice about supporting someone after their child has died.
It is important to look after your physical well-being too; try and look after yourself and get rest. If you can’t sleep, it could be helpful to listen to a relaxation or meditation audio or app like Headspace. There is some useful advice about sleep on the NHS website. Try to get some fresh air or sunlight each day – even opening a window can help. If you can try to exercise, go for a walk or run, or do some exercise in your home – exercise can be really helpful as it is a distraction from thinking and releases chemicals in our brains which boost mood. Yoga can be really helpful and there are many free videos available on YouTube. A good one to begin with is ‘Yoga for Grief with Adriene’. The Lola Project also have free videos for well-being, yoga and mediation. You can also speak to your G.P if needed.
Try to keep to a regular routine of getting up and dressed and eating meals at the usual time. The structure will help you feel a little more in control (even if only a little).
Tips for commemorating your child
During lockdown, families found it wasn’t possible to visit the grave of their baby or to mark special events like anniversaries or birthdays in the usual way. Some families have shared with us what has helped them to feel close to their child or how they adapted to mark special events during the pandemic:
I have a rose Bush that I had potted up a couple of years ago. I don’t live locally to where my daughter’s ashes are buried, so if ever felt I needed time or buy something I place it with the rose Bush
Usually we go for a day out and release balloons for our little boy. This year we had to shield for our youngest daughter so we stayed in, baked a cake and cuddled his Teddy (has his ashes in) whilst watching movies.
We concentrated on making my daughter a rose garden, we got our boys involved too. Also bought some amazing shadow boxes I’ll be putting pictures and outfits and her funeral flowers we had preserved in there. family have chosen their favourite outfit or one that holds the most smiles.
My partner has made a pond for our daughter in our garden, we also still have her ashes upstairs due to passing the day of lockdown and my son keeps drawing her pictures and letters for her memory box.
A Lullaby Online Memorial
This can be a wonderful way to remember your baby. Reading the messages and seeing the images left about a loved one can be a source of great comfort, and your tribute pages can be kept open for as long as you like. It can also be used to make donations in memory of a loved one. It is easy to set one up, just let us know here.
You may want to keep your own memory box or a memory book, containing items that help you and family members commemorate your child’s life. Creating your own boxes can be a special activity for your family, or you can buy boxes, which are available in various designs from several charities, such as Winston’s Wish email@example.com and Child Bereavement UK
Hand and footprints
There are inkless kits to take hand and foot prints without damaging your child’s skin. You may want to ask your funeral director if this is possible to be done before the funeral if this hasn’t been done already and you would like this.
I lost my daughter just before the pandemic and when her coffin was sealed they brought her home to me where she stayed until the day of her funeral. This gave myself and family much needed time with her. One thing I’d recommend to any family which is something i failed to do and wish i thought of sooner was plaster casts, giving the funeral home plaster casts kits so i could have her hands and feet with me forever. I would be able to still hold her hand.
Memorial jewellery and other keepsakes
It can help to have some special items that help you feel connected to your child. You may like to create a memory corner in your home or a garden area to place particular items that remind you of your baby or which are comforting.
Some parents choose to have a piece of jewellery which could perhaps incorporate a lock of their child’s hair to carry a memento with them.
If you have decided on cremation some parents keep their baby’s ashes in a precious box or a teddy bear.
You could consider having a quilt made using some of your child’s clothing
It may be helpful to plan a memorial event with family and friends such as Miles in Memory.
How we can help
Please be reassured that our bereavement support continues as normal.
Call 0808 802 6868or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Calls to our helpline are free from all landlines and most mobile phone networks. The helpline is open: Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm.
You can also talk to us via direct message on Facebook and Instagram
Our Befrienders are available to support via phone or email and also answer the helpline on weekend and Bank Holiday evenings 6-10pm.