How to Start Healing During a Season of Grief

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If you have young children or teenagers, there are a variety of books and films that can help them cope with loss, too. And check out these articles about how to talk with children about death and how to help children with pandemic grief.

Kristin Taylor, 39, of Oak Park, Ill., who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer in November, had tried it all: meditation, talking with friends who lost their parents, long walks, writing in a journal and yoga. “Nothing helped too much,” she said.

Then she started speaking with a grief counselor once a week.

“I feel I have a place to not only openly weep and mourn without burdening another person, but I also now have someone to help me sort out the trauma I experienced while caregiving and witnessing an aggressive and ruthless cancer take over my mother’s body,” Ms. Taylor said.

A November survey of more than 800 U.S. adults who lost someone to Covid-19 found that two-thirds of the respondents were suffering from debilitating levels of grief, a type of mourning that can disrupt a person’s ability to live life normally.

If you are using drugs or alcohol to cope, or if you are having trouble functioning, it’s important to speak with a professional, said Sherman A. Lee, an associate professor of psychology at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and one of the authors of the study. Dr. Lee’s website, The Pandemic Grief Project, offers a short test that people can use to assess their level of distress: A score of seven or higher suggests that additional assessment or treatment is needed.

The demands of the pandemic have made it even more difficult for some people to find a mental health provider, however, especially one who takes insurance.

Psychology Today maintains a large list of providers that you can filter by location, insurance, specialty or other criteria. But if you can’t find a provider who is accepting new patients, ask the providers you contacted or your primary care provider for referrals.

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