Coping when a loved one is nearing the end of life during lockdown

In order to protect against the spread of coronavirus, many hospitals, hospices and care homes have had to put restrictions on visitors. Government guidance says that people should be allowed to visit a loved one who is dying where possible – if you want to visit someone, contact the hospital, hospice or care home to see if this is possible. 

If you aren’t able to visit someone near the end of their life, it can be very distressing to feel that you don’t have the chance to say goodbye. Here are some things that you can try to reach out to them and to help you cope.

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  • Make a playlist of your loved one’s favourite music or music that makes you think of them. Write down or voice record yourself explaining why you chose each song and share the playlist with your loved one. 
  • Write out or voice record some poetry to share with your loved one – this could be a poem they or you like or perhaps one you’ve written. 
  • Write a letter, card or send an email so that they have something to read and reply to if they are able.
  • Record a voice or video message for your loved one to watch – you could either write down what you want to say or choose to speak freely.
  • Take your loved one ‘on a walk’ outside with you via video message or video call
  • Agree a time to watch the same film or TV programme and arrange to speak to one another after to discuss it.
  • Look up at the sky at the same time and discuss what you both can see – look at the moon or stars together or share what you can see outside your window – birds, rain or sunshine
  • Read your loved one a story or take it in turns to read a book out loud together.  If your loved one is not able to do this, read something that they would enjoy or something meaningful that you would like to share with them.
  • Send photographs and write in more detail the memories or stories you have connected to that photograph - either from the past or more recent or both.
  • Recall memories and moments between yourself and your loved one - share with them what they mean to you, how they have contributed to your life, how they have helped shape who you are.
  • Share your ‘ordinary’ moments with them. What did you do today, what do you plan for tomorrow? Describing the ordinary can bring a sense of calm to loved ones.

Sue Ryder's Online Bereavement Support

Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support makes it easy to connect with the support that’s right for you, even during lockdown. This can be professional counsellors, a community of others who understand, or reliable information and resources. Find out more about our online bereavement support.

Picture of Felicity, Online Bereavement Counsellor

Online Bereavement Counsellor

Felicity Ward