Responding to COVID-19 | Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
Responding to COVID-19
Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
The COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences have caused significant loss, including lives, livelihoods, social/physical connections, our usual ways of life, and how we grapple with death and mourning.
Grief is the emotional, cognitive, functional, and behavioral reactions a bereaved person might experience as a result of loss. Although grief is a normal process, in some it becomes prolonged or complicated, requiring intervention. Moreover, aspects of COVID-19 have made the grieving process more difficult, such as ambiguous loss that has no resolution or closure (e.g., social isolation during shelter-in-place), the need to isolate hospitalized patients, rendering families unable to visit or say goodbye, and disruptions in mourning rituals (e.g., not gathering for funerals). Mental health and school mental health personnel are often not fully trained on helping patients manage grief, loss, and bereavement, especially in the types of situations seen during this pandemic.
Here, we highlight MHTTC training and technical assistance products and resources related to grief, loss, and bereavement, as well as a compilation of resources from other reputable organizations.
To view all resources related to grief, loss, and bereavement, please visit our products and resources catalog and select "grief" from the keyword dropdown menu. For a list of upcoming events, visit our training and events calendar and type in “grief” in the Keyword Search.
Featured MHTTC Resources:
Grief Fact Sheet Series | MHTTC Network
Mental health professionals and school mental health personnel often do not receive intensive training on helping patients manage grief, loss, and bereavement, particularly grief related to situations seen during this pandemic. This series of fact sheets, developed by the MHTTC Network, is designed to help mental health professionals and school mental health personnel support patients, students, and families who may be experiencing grief at any time, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Fact Sheet #1 - Introduction to the Fact Sheet Series and Defining Grief: In this sheet, we define grief and differentiate between normative or uncomplicated grief from prolonged or complicated grief.
- Fact Sheet #2 - Responses to Grief Across the Lifespan: In this sheet, we discuss differences in grief reactions based on developmental level.
- Fact Sheet #3 - Preventive Strategies and Protective Factors: In this sheet, we discuss preventive strategies and protective resources for complicated grief.
- Fact Sheet #4 - Cultural Responsiveness: In this fact sheet, we describe differences in cultural expressions of grief.
- Fact Sheet #5 - Evidence-Based Treatments for Grief: In this sheet, we highlight evidence-based treatments for managing grief.
2022 Grief Virtual Learning Institute Presentations, Recordings and Session Information:
This two-day institute is aimed for those supporting individuals (general mental health and school mental health populations) experiencing grief and loss through COVID 19 and beyond.
- Wednesday February 23rd, 2022: General Mental Health Workforce Sessions here
- Thursday February 24th, 2022: School Mental Health Workforce Sessions here
2020 Grief Virtual Learning Institute Presentations, Recordings and Session Information:
This two-day institute is geared towards providing frontline workers with tools and strategies that can be used when addressing the needs of individuals experiencing grief and loss during COVID-19 and beyond.
- Access all materials from the September Grief Institute here.
- Access all materials from the November Grief Institute here.
This webinar gives you an overview of what grief looks like at any time but especially during a time of ambiguous loss. We talk about how to care for yourself and others in a time of uncertainty.
Talking about death and dying is always difficult, but communicating to families during pandemics like COVID-19 poses special challenges. This presentation discusses strategies for respectfully communicating with Latino families about COVID related end of life issues.
This document informs on what complicated grief is and how the Hispanic and Latino children and youth express it. It provides key aspects of Hispanic and Latino culture and three evidence-based interventions that have been proven to work to address the grieving process with Hispanic and Latino children, youths, and their families. Also, it covers how school personnel can manage this process.
In this presentation, we explore the varied manifestations that generate moral injury (often applied to frontline professionals), moral distress (usually used with healthcare professionals), soul injury (often described in police or military combatants and referring to losses that are not mourned and guilt and shame that is associated with the loss), and moral suffering. All of these situations arise from inner conflicts that arise from feeling that one’s professional practice does not follow standards of professional practice or ethical principles. In the presentation, we identify factors responsible for moral suffering as well as strategies for self-help as well as interventive strategies for clients designed to ease moral suffering.
Moral Injury is suffering that manifests as a character change in people because of challenges to their core moral foundations, which orient people to what they love and what matters most to them. This presentation will offer prevailing definitions of moral injury, both clinical and spiritual; discuss its relationship to trauma, such as PTSD; describe factors such as various religious and cultural meaning systems, professions, and life circumstances that impact understandings and experiences of it; identify emotions and behaviors that indicate moral suffering; and suggest various strategies that can contribute to healing.
In this presentation, we describe varied forms of grief complicated contrasting them with manifestations of typical grief—and noting factors that make individuals at-risk for complications in the grieving process. We also describe varied evidence-based interventive strategies that have been used with individuals struggling with complicated grief. Finally, we note the ways complicated grief is acknowledged within the DSM-5 and the new diagnosis for Prolonged Grief Disorder that will be evident in the DSM-5-TR.
For many of us, the accumulated stress, grief, fatigue, and despair of the Covid-19 crisis pose a significant challenge to our coping resources. While this perfect storm of stressors may be unprecedented, there is much we know about how to cope with and manage stress, even at these levels. In this talk, Dr. Kanter describes new research on predictors of coping with the crisis and effective interventions for reducing depression and loneliness during the crisis. Dr. Kanter integrates these new findings with established science and offers strategies for managing the psychological consequences of the crisis in our everyday lives.
Crisis Readiness, Response, and Recovery Webinar Series | Pacific Southwest MHTTC
Bereavement outside the context of a crisis is common – the vast majority of children experience the death of a close family member or friend. These deaths have a significant and often long-term impact on learning, social and emotional development, behavior, and adjustment. This series provides practical suggestions on how schools can talk with and support grieving children in general.
- Part 1 - Principles of Commemoration and Memorialization: Commemorative activities and memorialization in schools present opportunities for students and staff to take an active role in constructing an enduring memory related to a crisis event and to honor those whose lives were lost. This session reviews key considerations for planning commemorative and memorial activities in school settings.
- Part 2 - Supporting Grieving Students During a Pandemic: The current pandemic is associated with a large and growing number of deaths. This presentation provides practical suggestions on how schools can talk with and support grieving children in general. This presentation also highlights the unique challenges for supporting students during the pandemic and describe free resources from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students that can be used to address these challenges.
- Part 3 - When school starts back: Helping students, staff, and yourself cope with crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic: This session summarizes the principles of psychological first aid and common reactions that may be seen in any crisis event, including the current pandemic. It also provides practical advice on how to help students and staff understand and cope with the current pandemic and begin to prepare for what may be needed to offer support to students when schools re-open. The session underscores the need for professional self-care and highlights some of the barriers as well as some potential solutions.
This resources aims to provide essential ingredients to guide you and your organization through the basics of supporting a grieving workforce. It recaps the contents covered in a Grief Readiness Lab (April- May 2021) and Series (November-December 2021). An overview of what was explored in the Lab and Series is covered, and a taste of some of the conversations shared among participants are also included. The pilot and series were created and hosted by Workplace Resilience, a program of The Dinner Party, and the Pacific Southwest MHTTC and advised by the National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement.
Grief and Loss: An Active Approach for Older Adults | MHTTC Network Coordinating Office
While some talk about stages of grief, the reality is that most of us do not move through grief in a step-by-step way. Having an active approach to grief can empower both older adults and those who serve them to manage this human experience. Differentiating normal grief from prolonged grief disorder and evidence-based treatments are discussed in this training.
This Q&A document addresses how behavioral healthcare providers can cope with grief, loss, and bereavement both personally and professionally and was developed in conjunction with the "Grief, Exhaustion, and Finding Vitality in Behavioral Health Care for Staff" webinar held on February 10, 2022. View the recorded webinar and other related resources here.
These module covers skills for dealing with grief, loss and bereavement related to COVID-related losses. This is the recording of a live event which offered a small group training setting with breakout rooms and a facilitated learning environment. This module is part of our Disaster Response and Behavioral Health series with Dr. Kira Mauseth. Learn more about the series here.
Helping the grieving student: when COVID loss returns to school: This session provided practical advice on how to support grieving students in any context. A range of topics will be covered, including what not to stay to a grieving student, considerations related to grief across different cultures, identifying and addressing guilt, appropriate academic accommodations, and managing grief triggers. The unique challenges of supporting grieving students during the current pandemic, as well as free resources for addressing these challenges from the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, will be shared.
This webinar takes a look at some of the challenges caused by the uncertainty of COVID19, including chronic stress, emotional distress, and loss through the lens of prevention. It provides strategies and solutions for health promotion, with practical tips that translate theory into workable practice. It also provides guidelines for implementing prevention strategies and educating clients on prevention. A workbook via a downloadable PDF accompanies the training to reinforce the concepts provided in the webinar and for use as an ongoing resource.
In this recorded webinar, the topic of native spirituality is discussed. We are now beginning to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and many Native people are taking stock of the past 15 months of physical separation and emotional strain. This discussion with Native spiritual and cultural leaders provides an opportunity to applaud the bravery of our health care providers and community members, and to discuss how Native spirituality can support our ability to regain our health and balance. For many, Native spirituality can be a potential antidote that minimizes the consequences of anxiety, fear, depression, and other stresses caused during the coronavirus crisis.
In difficult times, rituals provide a certain order to an existence that otherwise might be full of confusion and chaos. Given the current pandemic, loss and grief have taken a front seat. The presenters in this session discuss Latinos' values and rituals as they relate to the current pandemic. The importance of the therapeutic relationship will be discussed as well as approaches and strategies that promote new rituals, new meanings, and a transformative experience. Three case studies are included for group discussion.
Providers of all occupations are experiencing increased levels of on-the-job stress as they work to respond to the many needs of the individuals they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. This training provides a metaphor for riding the wave of stress, trauma, and grief. It examined how integrating the brain and body response can heal during times of crisis. A focus is provided on maintaining healing practices and building new pathways to enhance self-care. Traditional Indigenous trauma processing and the importance of grief rituals are explored with a discussion of commonalities of cultures.
In this session one, trainers discuss what has changed as a result of the current health pandemic, how we can prepare rural providers to ask questions to determine isolation/loneliness, and more. Session two provides examples of programs that address rural isolation among older adults, and how they have adapted during the health pandemic. Finally, the third session focuses on grief and loss and supports available in rural areas.
- Part 1 - Rural Social Isolation and Loneliness: Rates, Importance, and Identifying Risk
- Part 2 - The Evolving Nature of Social Connections: Promoting Well-Being in Times of Crisis
- Part 3 - Rural but Reachable: How to Build Grief Support by Creating Community
This guide highlights how school mental health leaders can – and do – work with and through crises; provides an overview of the crisis continuum; explores the intersection between school crises and school mental health leadership; and examines each component of the school crisis continuum (readiness, response, recovery, and renewal) by learning from voices of experience from the field. A complementary Reflection Worksheet is designed to help readers work through the guide.
This is the third and final session of the three-part webinar series, Making a Good Connection: Engaging Students and Families in School Tele-Mental Health, that is geared toward providers who are making the transition from in-person to telehealth services. Session content focuses on practical strategies and equity concerns related to engaging children, adolescents, and families using distance technology.
Dr. Pauline Boss explains ambiguous loss, its effects, its differences from ordinary loss and PTSD, and its complicating grief. She presents six culturally inclusive guidelines for treatment and intervention, useful regardless of your discipline. She also addresses self-of-the-therapist issues for these uncertain times.
Webinars and Trainings
National Alliance for Grieving Children: In Conversation with Dr. David Weaver and Dr. Donna Gaffney: A Ground breaking study on the educational, health, and economic outcomes of parentally bereaved children.
Fact Sheets and Tip Sheets
Toolkits and Guidelines
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline is standing by 24/7 to support you during the pandemic & beyond. Toll-free, multilingual, & confidential support services are available to all residents in the U.S. & its territories. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor.