Year 2020
March 2020

COVID-19: Meeting your Bereavement Needs in the current Pandemic

The Ministry of Health recently advised additional social distancing measures, including limiting attendance at funerals and wakes as far as possible to family members only, and gatherings of 10 or fewer people at any one point. While the measures keep us safe through maintaining physical distance, they can threaten our emotional wellbeing, especially in times of grief and bereavement.

It is important for us to adhere closely to the advisory to prevent more lives lost to COVID-19. While we cannot be physically present with one another or be at the funeral service, it is even more imperative that we connect to one another and be able to meet our social and emotional needs when faced with a loss of a dear one.

Here are 5 ways to facilitate the bereavement experience and seek comfort while having to be physically apart.

  1. Take time to be in a quiet space to remember and honour the person.
    1. Acknowledge your emotions and responses. Make time and space to be with your grief.
    2. Recall fond memories. Forgive any past misgivings. Articulate gratitude. And say goodbye in your own personal way.
    3. Engage in prayers, journaling or any other ways that help you cope with your grief.
  2. Set up a memorial space for the person online (e.g. Facebook tribute page, or a blog site).
    1. Create an online memorial or just a simple post on the loss and what it means for you.
    2. Write comforting messages, have relatives, friends, and acquaintances to join you with their eulogies to be published for others.
    3. Share appropriate photos or videos for remembrance.
  3. Maintain physical distancing but connect emotionally.
    1. Reach out, make a call or send a message to your friends and loved ones to connect and create shared emotional experiences.
    2. Do something concrete for one another, write a card or order gifts or food to be delivered to the family of the deceased.
    3. If you can’t be at the physical funeral, consider being present virtually through livestream or even via your phone video call.
  4. Consider a physical meet up to memorialise the person at a later date.
    1. Memorials can happen through multiple events. Have another physical memorial when COVID-19 runs its course.
    2. It is never too late to make a visit to the niche to pay your respect or visit the family to express your condolences and concern when you can.
  5. Speak with the funeral director to find ways to accommodate the distancing measures while allowing for friends and family members to be connected.
    1. Explore the staggered visiting for large families.
    2. Set up live-streaming or recording, where possible.
    3. Connect with your family and friends through phone and provide updates.

Know that you do not need to grieve alone. You can speak to someone about your grief by reaching out to Viriya Grief Support Programme at 6256 1311 or We have a team of grief counsellors, social workers and psychologists who can provide the necessary support through your grief.

About the author

Mr Ng Yong Hao is a social worker and has been working with people living with loss and grief matters for the past 4 years. Prior to joining Viriya Community Services, he provided support to cancer patients and caregivers across the illness trajectory, from diagnosis, survivorship, to end-of-life care and bereavement.

Yong Hao graduated with a Graduate Diploma (Social Work) from National University of Singapore and he is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work in the same university. He has strong clinical and research interest in loss and grief, especially in non-death losses. He is co-leading and involved in multiple local research projects on loss and grief and other social work practice issues.