Carrying On: Tips for Helping the Bereaved in a Time of Uncertainty

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Doctor with stethoscope
Valley News - Health

ARLINGTON, Va. – It’s a time of uncertainty for the nation as people face the threat posed by the coronavirus, and for those who are already struggling with grief, these troublesome times add more stress.

At any given time, about 7.5% of the U.S. population, or 25 million people, are grieving a death that occurred under normal circumstances. The added weight of uncertainty and the threat of the coronavirus can add to the trauma and stress load carried by the bereaved.

“We are being asked to keep a physical distance now between ourselves and others and this national emergency adds stress for those who are already grieving,” Bonnie Carroll, founder and president of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivor, said. “We need to build up each other and our community in new ways. We know the foundation of hope is community, and together we are unbreakable.”

To help, TAPS offers the following tips for the bereaved:

Take time to reflect. People should slow down from a fast-paced lifestyle and allow themselves time and space to reflect.

Practice self-compassion. People should make time to recharge and spend time taking care of themselves, the way they take care of others who need support.

Pursue health and wellness. People should make healthy food choices, get plenty of exercise and get adequate rest. Try to avoid stress-eating. Refrain from using excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine and avoid tobacco, marijuana and illegal drugs.

Hone the mind and focus. People can cope with stress and anxiety by practicing or learning some new meditation skills, breathing techniques and mindfulness practices or faith-based focused prayer.

Stay virtually connected to social supports. Talk to family and friends through phone, texting or video chats. If a grieving person is seeing a therapist, they should call them to see how they will handle appointments or locate a new provider who offers web-based or telehealth counseling services.

TAPS is the national organization providing compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a military loved one. Since 1994, TAPS has honored the nation’s heroes by caring for all those they loved and left behind. They serve through peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, casework assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and the National Military Survivor Helpline, which is available 24/7. Services are provided at no cost to survivors. For more information go to https://www.taps.org or call (800) 959- 8277.

Submitted by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.