PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The new reality of social distancing in this time of COVID-19 makes grieving and closure nearly impossible for many people.
Darren Burch works for Legacy Health. He’s been redeployed from working as a physician outreach liaison for the system, to now working in communications at the Legacy Emanuel Emergency Operations Command Center.
Burch lost his father two weeks ago and because of visitor restrictions, had to say goodbye the week leading up to his father’s death over FaceTime. Burch’s father did not have COVID-19.
He says he feels fortunate he was able to see his father in-person the night before he passed away.
“That last visit, we were so grateful to be there. We were so grateful for the time that we had, and we were so grateful that he wasn’t suffering anymore,” said Burch.
The biggest reason grief has changed for Burch, he says, is that we’re all isolated right now.
The feelings are still very real, yet we’re not able to come together to mourn.
“I think that’s the hardest part of this is that I’m trying to seek comfort where there isn’t any, which is human interaction. And FaceTime is great, phone calls are fantastic, but it just doesn’t replace that human connection,” he said. “We can’t get together, really, as a family. We can’t have a memorial service. We’re originally from Kansas and we can’t go fly back and have a big memorial service for my father.”
Burch wants people who are in his position to try to remember that your loved one is being so well-cared-for.
He urges people to make a connection with the healthcare workers at the hospital or care facility your family member is in, because he says they are going to be your anchor through that difficult time.
Legacy’s Director of Behavioral Health, Dr. Lynnea Lindsey, has some insight about this new grief we may be feeling.
“There’s often a sense of regret, sorrow, even some guilt about: Have we really done everything we said we were gonna do? Have we finished our conversations?” she said. “There will never be the ability to take care of things. But at this time, there really isn’t. It’s out of our hands.”
Lindsey says if you’re experiencing loss right now, there are some ways you can feel connected.
The first is to write out what you would’ve said to your loved one.
The second is to write down some stories, positive memories you really treasure.
And the last is to share those stories with others, whether it is in a virtual video chat, or otherwise.
“Have something. Some sort of marking of time that says, ‘This is how we want to tell the story and how we’re telling the story,’” Lindsey said.
Lindsey says it’s also important to honor your grief immediately.
“There is an acute absence for us as a society where it’s almost like something has gone dormant. There is a much more palpable sense of loss, a connection to someone,” she tells FOX 12.
Lindsey says human connection is still so critical in this time, especially as we move out of this “physical distancing,” as she likes to call it, and back into reengaging with one another.
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