Grief in a Pandemic

In the midst of a global pandemic it remains one of the most heartbreaking realities that we are unable to grieve properly and support friends in a time of great loss.

Depending on where you are in the world your current restrictions may be different but here in Ontario we are in a “Stay Home” order. This eliminates the opportunity for visitations, funerals, home visits to hug a friend or drop off a thoughtful token casserole.

So in this unique time we need to get creative because grief has not gone away. The heartache that comes with the death of a loved one still happens and the need for us to exercise our empathy is more compelling than ever.

I’ve gathered a few ideas to spark your caring heart into action.


  1. Use your voice- now more than ever people need to hear from friends and family. Use the voice text option on your cell phone to record and send your heartfelt message. Social media like facebook messenger also present a voice recording option to capture your sentiments.

  2. Send a Digital Card- This is a wonderful option to ensure your thoughtful words are received directly with no postal concerns. You can send as a text or an email. The selection of card options is lovely and they are fully customizable. My digital cards shops are EVITE and PUNCHBOWL. *Note Evite and Punchbowl are offering FREE greeting cards to encourage connection during the pandemic.

  3. Make music your gift- Music has alway been an anchor for beautiful memories. Music captures emotions in a way our words do not. If the deceased is someone you knew personally select a song that reminds you of that person and share with the family why it has relevance. If you are not familiar with the deceased, select a song that has always given you a sense of peace in times where you’ve needed it. Your message to the family can express why you’ve chosen this song. You can use Spotify, YouTube, Google, Apple to share music links. (Tip: you could add the link to your digital sympathy card).

  4. Dig up the photos- Looking at old photos is such a healing way for families to unite and reminisce. If you have access to photos of the departed now would be the time to share them and reveal stories that may be unknown to the family. Offering this comfort brings new laughs and helps to complete the picture of their loved one’s life.

  5. Use the On-line Condolences book- You’ve likely seen this before. The funeral homes offer the funeral visitation book in a digital format that captures your sentiments and is provided to the family for comfort in the days that follow, Donations to a designated charity are typically provided here and offer a purposeful way to express your condolences.

  6. Feed Them- Food has always been an expression of love. Food is nurturing and represents the way you want the recipient to feel, comforted. This tradition is overdone in most situations and while well-intended does not measure up to it’s practical purpose especially during a pandemic. Instead, if feeding the family feels right for you,look into home delivery options that would include convenient and delicious foods. Organic delivery options include grocery style delivery and can offer the family relief from the need to shop during a difficult time. Other programs offer pre-made meal options that offer complete meals to families that may not be putting self care on the top of their priority list during their grief. Two considerations are: On The Move Organics, Mama Earth Organics

  7. Calendarize Connection- Grief can be especially intense immediately following the loss of a loved one. There is a lot of contact in connection for the first few days and then that begins to dwindle. In the days and weeks/months that follow a loss is when a family or friend may need you more than you expect. Special dates like birthdays, mothers day, fathers day or anniversaries will trigger sadness for an undetermined amount of time. Mark it in your calendar to send a voice note, text, digital card that expresses your thoughtfulness. Letting someone know that you remember alongside them is amongst the kindest acts of friendship or familial connection.

  8. Keep it Simple- We often overthink what needs to be said in a time of grief. Allowing someone to know you’re keeping them in your thoughts can sound as simple as “my heart goes out to you”, “I am here”, “I share your pain”, “I hurt with you”. No overthinking is necessary. It’s the effort to connect that is important, not the words you choose. No one will remember the words but they will always remember the way you made them feel. Consider what words would make you feel supported and loved. Those will be the words you’ll want to use.

For anyone who has experienced loss during this time, I feel you. I am someone who requires that sense of closure that often comes with visitations, funerals, lots of hugs and stories of the person gone.

As we pivot in new times I feel certain that our ability to express our hearts will only find new ways to show up.

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