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Understanding grief in a time of COVID-19 - a hypothetical approach to challenges and support

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posted on 2020-07-27, 22:32 authored by Chao FangChao Fang, Alastair Comery

This article develops preliminary understandings of loss and grief at both an individual and collective level following the COVID-19 outbreak. By examining relevant media and academic discourses, the authors analyse and envisage challenges and support for those experiencing loss during COVID-19. The discussion revisits and further relocates the ideas of good and bad deaths in the context of increased social constrains and inequalities. Further, two pairs of contrasting hypotheses are proposed to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on both bereaved individuals and society as a whole during and post the outbreak. The discussion captures a mixed picture of grief and bereavement, which highlights the importance of timely, holistic and continuous support. It is found that individual and collectives express diverse needs to respond to deaths and losses as a process of meaning-making. Further the significance of socio-cultural environments also become evident. These findings highlight community support during COVID-19 and further promote a grief literate culture as imperative to support individual and collective needs when confronted with loss and grief. This article provides timely and comprehensive accounts of possible challenges and support both for individual and collective experiences of loss and grief. These understandings could facilitate further research, informing better practice and policy decisions to support the bereaved in the context of COVID-19 and other disruptive world events.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


Declaration of conflicts of interest

The authors declares that they have no competing interests.

Corresponding author email

Lead author country

  • United Kingdom

Lead author job role

  • Higher Education Researcher

Lead author institution

University of Bath

Human Participants

  • No


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