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Covid-19 and Bereavement

As has been said on countless occasions, these are unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in so many ways. One of those ways is through loved ones passing away, from the virus or other causes, coupled with the lack of opportunity to say goodbye in the way we’d hoped.

Working alongside colleagues who have lost loved ones during this period has given me a greater sense of appreciation. A colleague of mine who recently lost their father commented:

“As you can imagine it has been a tough time. Losing someone you love is painful. Losing someone you love during an epidemic is quite unimaginable. The rule book no longer exists.”

The rule book very much has been thrown out the window. It is now much harder to spend time with loved ones in the last few days and hold funerals the way our loved ones would have liked. Given so many of us are now working from home, there is also the added factor of not being able to distract ourselves so easily with normal day to day life.

I recently lost a family member in December 2019. This was upsetting and the Bar doesn’t always permit all the time you may need to grieve. Of course, the very nature of self-employment is that time off costs money. When grieving, it feels impossible and quite wrong to put a price on how much time it will actually take to feel okay again, but these are considerations we have to make. During my bereavement, we weren’t facing the same pandemic challenges we are now, however the support in place remains the same.

There will be some people reading this with very vacant schedules at the moment and there will be some who are juggling a household, two children and a busy diary. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, we all have one invaluable asset – the ability to communicate with each other. Ironically, there have been so many people brought closer together through being apart. That is exactly what needs to be offered during a bereavement.

Grieving can be a lonely process and sometimes that is what people would like and that is to be respected. However, it is important, now more than ever, to let those suffering from a bereavement know that you are there. There to listen. There to talk. There to offer support in whatever way you can; be it ordering a gift online or giving that person a call. Or as of this week, meeting in the park (whilst observing social distancing) for a coffee!

For those not feeling ready to reach out to friends and family, here are some general tips for wellbeing which I found useful during a time of grief:

  • Eat and drink well, staying hydrated.
  • Get extra rest.
  • Be patient with yourself and give yourself plenty of thought time.
  • Embrace all your emotions, either by yourself or with family and friends.
  • Set a regular sleep schedule.
  • Move your body.
  • Try and grasp a routine.
  • Treat yourself to something you love.
  • Reach out to one or more of the professional services available:
  • And of course, there is always the option to seek medical support by talking to your doctor or GP.

These are just a handful of ways which may help with bereavement. For those not suffering, reach out to those who are. I know my colleague was beyond grateful for the loving messages they received whilst they processed their loss.

I will finish this blog with a quote I find endearing:

“Little by little we let go of loss, but never love.”

Should any of my colleagues at the Bar ever wish to talk, I am always more than happy to spare the time.

Aimee Stokes

May 2020

Note: Wellbeing at the Bar resources on bereavement are also found here

Aimee Stokes, was called in 2018 and is a Third Six pupil at Charter Chambers. Aimee represents Middle Temple Young Bar Association on the Wellbeing at the Bar working group.