WINNIPEG (CITYNEWS) – Never in our lifetimes has Canada experienced the volume and complexity of grief that is has, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Canadian Grief Alliance.
The group is now urging the Canadian Government to invest $110-million into grief services and research.
Over the past few weeks, Canadians have been grieving in one way or another, whether it’s loss of jobs, financial security or losing a loved one due to COVID-19, or other health complications during the pandemic.
Paul Adams with the Canadian Grief Alliance says, people have been robbed of proper goodbyes with their dying relatives, and a ban on large family gathering hasn’t helped either making the grief that much harder.
“Often that grief will turn into depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation and all of those things affect productivity, ability to work, ability to go to school, and ability to go on for people and rejoin the trajectory of their lives.”
Adams says money they are hoping for, will go towards researching the ways COVID-19 has changed the grieving process.
He added grief services don’t fall under Mental health supports, therefore recent government investments into mental health services won’t go to supporting those who are grieving.
Frontline health care workers are at a heightened risk for prolonged, complicated grief marked by depression, and the risk of suicide.
Adams added existing grief services are fragmented, underfunded and insufficient and if they are left unaddressed, significant long-term social, health and economic impacts will result.
“Grief which is a normal process will turn into these forms of mental illness, mental distress that actually not only have a huge human cost, but they have an economic cost, they have a cost for our country in the future.”
Harvey Chochinvo, who is also working with the Canadian Grief Alliance says the spectrum of grief being experienced by Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic is so vast we still don’t know what the total impact on society will be.
“The process of dying is being distorted, and what we can expect than is the process of grieving is going to be distorted,” said Harvey Chochinov, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba.
Chochinov is advocating for a National Grief Strategy, to be completed in five months with a focus on investment to maximize access to supports.
“We can’t claim to understand specifically the challenges that people who are grieving are going through. We keep saying these are unprecedented times. We don’t know what that grief is going to look like.”
Chochinov says the hope moving forward, is to create additional grief services so that people can access them online whenever they need.