COVID and Coping: A Grounded Theory Study of Isolation and Its Effect on Grief
Communities all over the world have been grappling with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID) pandemic since early 2020, with countries struggling to maintain their economic, political, and healthcare infrastructures amidst the chaos. As COVID cases are slowly beginning to decrease, researchers are examining a variety of ways that this pandemic has affected the population long-term. One issue that researchers have noted in the general public is the inability of people to freely grieve for a loved one. People who have lost a friend or family member in the pandemic have often been confined to a near-solitary state of grieving due to the quarantine policies currently in place. Thanatologists share the current concerns that researchers and healthcare professionals have expressed, believing that grieving people may be unable to return to their lives after being forced to isolate for so long. This study was designed to explore the perceptions of individuals who have lost a loved one during the COVID pandemic in order to generate a substantive theory on ambiguous loss and perceptions of successful coping. This qualitative study utilized an active interviewing process following a Glaserian grounded-theory design to identify the emerging themes of loss of control, conflict between fear and need, and lack of community. An understanding of these findings provokes further thought into the long-term mental health assistance necessary for the growing number of people who have experienced the impact of losing a loved one during the pandemic.