The Grief Pandemic Will Torment Americans For Years

this post authored by Liz SzaboKaiser Health News

Cassandra Rollins’ daughter was still conscious when the ambulance took her away.

Shalondra Rollins, 38, was struggling to breathe as COVID overwhelmed her lungs. But before the doors closed, she asked for her cellphone, so she could call her family from the hospital.

It was April 7, 2020 - the last time Rollins would see her daughter or hear her voice.

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Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

The hospital rang an hour later to say she was gone. A chaplain later told Rollins that Shalondra had died on a gurney in the hallway. Rollins was left to break the news to Shalondra’s children, ages 13 and 15.

More than a year later, Rollins said, the grief is unrelenting.

Rollins has suffered panic attacks and depression that make it hard to get out of bed. She often startles when the phone rings, fearing that someone else is hurt or dead. If her other daughters don’t pick up when she calls, Rollins phones their neighbors to check on them.

“You would think that as time passes it would get better," said Rollins, 57, of Jackson, Mississippi. “Sometimes, it is even harder. … This wound right here, time don’t heal it."

With nearly 600,000 in the U.S. lost to COVID-19 - now a leading cause of death - researchers estimate that more than 5 million Americans are in mourning, including more than 43,000 children who have lost a parent.

The pandemic - and the political battles and economic devastation that have accompanied it - have inflicted unique forms of torment on mourners, making it harder to move ahead with their lives than with a typical loss, said sociologist Holly Prigerson, co-director of the Cornell Center for Research on End-of-Life Care.

The scale and complexity of pandemic-related grief have created a public health burden that could deplete Americans’ physical and mental health for years, leading to more depression, substance misuse, suicidal thinking, sleep disturbances, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and impaired immune function.

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Disclosure: This article appeared on Kaiser Health ...

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