In a new study, scientists have shown that there is a huge impact on family members of the patient who has died because of coronavirus. These findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
The data shows that for everyone COVID-19 death, on average nine close family members go through effects of bereavement. The conclusion was based on complex demographic calculations and data about the coronavirus.
Most of the family members are severely affected by rapid declines, sudden deaths and an inability to be there at the end when a loved one passes due to the virus. Researchers warn that ripple effects of this sudden loss will become evident very soon and will last for years.
Some models have estimated that nearly 190,000 Americans could die from coronavirus complications by the end of August. This means that 1.7 million Americans will be grieving close family members, according to the study. The study showed that most likely deaths are to occur in grandparents, followed by parents, siblings, spouses, and children.
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—Entire high school football team quarantined in Alabama
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One of the co-authors of the study, Ashton Verdery, who is a professor of sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University says that the deaths occurring are not is socially isolated people that no one cares about. Most of them are highly integrated members of the family and their death will have a broad reach.
The authors also stressed that due to the family dynamic in America, African American families will suffer from more deaths than white families, that will aggravate the virus’ effect on these communities.
Another important concern here is that loss of these individuals can not only mean mental trauma but also loss of financial, social and caregiving support. The researchers wrote in their paper that this pandemic will “lower educational achievement among youth, disrupt marriages, and lead to poorer physical and mental health across all age groups.’
Another researcher found that there would be a huge psychological impact due to the pandemic. Holly Prigerson, co-director of the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, explained that close family members of the deceased can have severe symptoms of traumatic stress, including feelings of helplessness, horror, anxiety, sadness, anger, guilt, and regret, all of which will magnify their grief.
She also says that people experiencing bereavement will also suffer more because of lockdowns and social isolation during the pandemic. Like many experts she added that older adults are especially vulnerable.
All of these predictions are already coming true. Organizations that provide support to people going through bereavement have seen more people flocking to their doors.
The nation’s fifth-largest hospice provider recently confirmed that demand of bereavement care has increased exponentially to 40 percent, which typically is 5 to 10 percent normally in family members. Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care has doubled the number of online, weekly grief support groups it offers to 29 in response, since March.
Many organizations are also trying to train school administrators, teachers, counselors and other clinicians to recognize signs of grief and bereavement and provide assistance.
Experts believe that even people who are not directly related to the victims might suffer from extreme trauma, especially healthcare providers who see patients dying every day, in droves. Many have termed it as the “collective grief experience”.
Grief is the reaction people have in response to a death or loss. Grief can affect a person’s mental, physical, and even spiritual health. People going through grief can heave physical reactions, changes in appetite, sleep pattern, and productivity. Family members can feel survivor’s guilt, guilt of not being able to provide more care, and regrets. Many even start to question religious beliefs and even lose faith in organizations and social structures.
It can be an even worse experience for children. A parent’s death can be particularly difficult for children, affecting their sense of security or survival. Limited understanding and an inability to express feelings puts very young children at an increased risk of serious issues. Studies have shown that young children after a loss of a closed family member can revert back to earlier behaviors, even bed-wetting.