The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most trying times of the century - indeed it has impacted every part of our daily lives.  
 
While manufacturing plants hurried to re-purpose their facilities for the creation of masks, ventilators and hand sanitizer, Grief Recovery Europe has been working around the clock to offer support to as many people as possible. Now, two months into lockdown, it has launched a new online programme for Helping Children with Loss as well as a new hub for free downloadable resources for parents, teachers and schools. 
Growing need for grief support during lockdown
 

The pain of not saying goodbye 

A highly contagious virus, COVID-19 has robbed thousands of families of an experience that is often a powerful component of healing and finding closure after loss - saying goodbye to loved ones.  
 
"When we usually talk about unresolved grief, it’s to do with things that have been left unsaid. However, this presents to us a new variant of unresolved grief; the inability to say goodbye, which may then limit grievers from becoming complete with their loss in the future," blogged Grief Recovery UK in early April. The blog article has been viewed over 10,000 times, proof that it strikes a chord with people in the UK who are struggling with this new type of loss. Several other articles provide assistance for those who are trying to support their GCSE and A-level students, for example, are having trouble sleeping or are eating too much due to boredom or stress, people who have been forced to postpone their weddings and more. 
 
Saying goodbye to loved ones covid-19
 

Helping the bereaved...online 

At the same time, there was a larger-than-ever need for Grief Recovery progammes even while people were confined to their homes. In its efforts to help as many people as possible, Grief Recovery UK quickly organised increased capacity by trebling the number of Specialists able to conduct their 1:1 sessions with clients online following advanced training. 
 
"There are a number of different things that can go wrong when you're working in an online environment," said Carole Henderson, MD of Grief Recovery Europe. "We provide additional training to our Certified Grief Recovery Specialists so that they're able to create a setting where grievers feel safe to talk about things very close to their hearts without the fear of not being heard." Those who are looking for 1:1 support can now find a Specialist who is able to assist online by consulting the organisation's online directory

5 steps to feeling better 

Those who are familiar with the Grief Recovery Method are undoubtedly aware that it helps people heal from any type of loss - and lockdown is a prime example of an invisible loss of freedom, certainty, routine, special plans and in many cases safety. The Grief Recovery Handbook defines grief as "the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour," which implies that all of us are indeed going through a grieving experience right now - and like all grief, each person's individual experience is unique. 
In response, Grief Recovery UK quickly got to work to launch a 5-point plan for surviving lockdown - including 5 thorough articles and its own free eBook.  
 
The Plan advises readers to acknowledge what they're thinking and feeling, be present, tell the emotional truth, have an open heart when listening to others, and learn how to say goodbye. "The goal is learning how to feel better before lockdown is over, not waiting for things to get better on their own," said Maria Bailey, an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist in Devon who was one of the main contributors to the Plan. 

Support for Teachers and Schools 

Teachers, students and parents have been some of those facing the most serious changes in routine, with everyone scrambling to plan new lessons, organise distance learning, change family routines and find adequate space at home to learn and play. In fact, schools will continue to be challenged by the grief of this event far after lockdown is over. 
 
"They had a grieving event when they stopped school, and they'll have a grieving event when they go back to school," said Carole Henderson in her webinar with TES UK entitled Bereavement support during lockdown. "So that first day and week back are crucial - it's probably going to be like the first day of the school year with knobs on. There's going to be so many different people and so many different emotions flying around in so many different places, it's crucial that we gear up for taking this extra emotional load on when they come back, as well as accounting for the educational gaps."  
To assist Teachers, Head Teachers and other educational staff in taking on this additional 'emotional load', the organisation has been working around the clock on a number of different measures - launching a new Facebook page for Emotional First Aid in schools, an online portal with free downloadable tip sheets and numerous additional resources, as well as re-designing its tried-and-tested Helping Children with Loss programme for participation online.  
Schools can book an online programme for up to eight members of their staff at a time, which includes four online training sessions. "We're already hearing from people where they've got students in their schools where parents have died from this awful disease. So the response needs to be a whole school response as well. It's not the Head's job, it's not the teacher's job, it's every single person in the school that makes that tick. From the caretaker and your grounds people, the dinner ladies...everyone needs to be on board in taking this whole school approach to making everyone feel comfortable and safe to be back at school, into this new 'normal'," Henderson told TES.  
 
With the online programme, schools can prepare Teachers, Teaching Assistants and Pastoral Care staff for the new challenges that post-lockdown school life will bring, as well as equipping them to deal with other cases of loss and bereavement in the future. Head Teachers and Deputy Heads can also gain confidence in speaking with families who have suffered a recent loss. More information about the programme can be found on the Grief Recovery website. 
Grief Recovery UK MD Carole Henderson speaks to the Times Educational Supplement (TES) about bereavement in schools and the affects of lockdown in this recent webinar 
Parents can find support on the new online hub as well. Resources include tips for talking to children and effective listening, as well as eBooks, paperbacks and audio books.  
 
Even though measures will soon be taken to lift lockdown restrictions and return life back to a new kind of normal, the resources and online programmes that have been created during the crisis will remain available for the long term. Loss and bereavement affect everyone, and the Grief Recovery Method is the only programme of its kind which has been proven effective in relieving the pain of grief. Online programmes for individuals and schools will offer a practical alternative for those who are not able to find a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist in their area, or who have other logistical obstacles.  
Those wanting to know more about resources for schools and parents can visit www.griefuk.org/children. Training for those who are interested in helping others as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist will also be offered online (more information here). 
 
As always, those who are grieving a loss of any kind are invited to reach out directly at 01234 862218 or via the organisation's Facebook page, or can order a copy of The Grief Recovery Handbook, When Children Grieve, or other books by the Grief Recovery Institute from the online shop. 
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