Anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one understands that grief fluctuates between moments of sadness and shock, and moments of acceptance and even joy. These moments are rarely predictable. Sometimes emotions surface at the most inconvenient times, when we least expect it. Even so, it’s normal to move in and out of the many layers of grief, as you learn to adapt to life without that special person in it.

This last year, grieving a loss has taken on a whole new level of complexity. Our caring staff has talked with many of our neighbors from El Cerrito , Oakland, and Berkeley here at Sunset View Cemetery & Mortuary who have described a feeling of overwhelm as they cope not only with grief but also with the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout our many decades helping Bay Area families plan funerals for loved ones, we talk often about grief and describe its unpredictable nature. When a loved one is coping with a death, there’s no telling them, “Here’s how you will feel, and this is how you should respond.”

Rather, we walk them through the details of planning a personal tribute – a healing step in and of itself. Family and friends gather, supporting one another with hugs, words of encouragement, and the traditional rituals to say goodbye. But social distancing, stay-at-home-orders and limits on the size of in-person gatherings have changed all of that – which has, in turn, dramatically affected the grieving process.

The question is, how can a person process grief without the steps that usually aid in healing? Allow us to offer a few suggestions.

Be extra intentional about connecting with loved ones. From phone calls to video chats to letters or distanced visits, it’s never been more important to share stories and memories – especially given the precautions we’re taking. The simple act of seeing and hearing from people who are about you can help in the healing process. 

Create a ritual to help you honor your loved one. If you enjoy photos, create a collage featuring your loved one. If you like to write, pen a letter to your loved one or write about what you’re feeling in a journal. Is music a big part of your life? Make a playlist of songs you and your loved one enjoyed. Anything to acknowledge the reality of the death and help you pay personal tribute to the friend or family member who meant so much to you.

Ask for help when you need it. For immediate support and to learn more about the grieving process, check out our Guiding Grief Interactive Video Support. Here, you will be guided through steps to help you find answers to many questions about grief and suggestions for your own healing or help with someone else’s healing. Gain an understanding and acceptance of how necessary the process is and know that you will get through it. Watch this video to know you are not alone.

Remember too that our caring staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can answer your questions, offer support, and help you find the resources you need. Contact us anytime. This is what we’re here for.