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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread loss and disruption throughout the world. 

Losses from COVID-19 place unique risks and challenges on grievers, and many put some survivors at risk for more serious complications related to grief. 

It may help to understand or prepare for how coping with deaths related to COVID-19 may be even more intensely difficult than losses from other causes.

Factors that may increase the risk of developing “complicated grief” include:

  • An unexpected death, with little to no time to prepare
  • Death of a child or young person
  • A violent death, such as an accident or homicide
  • A dependent or extremely close relationship to the deceased person
  • Social isolation
  • Past history of depression, separation anxiety, attachment difficulties, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental health conditions.
  • Loss of friendships, or family or social support
  • Existing major life stressors such as economic hardship, racial trauma, or physical illness 
  • Spiritual crisis
  • Multiple losses in a family or community

COVID-19 can amplify many of these risk factors for complicated grief, and the pandemic has unevenly caused devastating losses for some communities. 

It has also prevented us from gathering together to grieve and heal in community, which has added to the stress and isolation that people are feeling.