With so much loss in 2020, bereavement expert talks about coping this holiday season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. —
Because of the pandemic, 2020 will go on record as the deadliest year in U.S. history with more than 3 million lives lost. It’s a 15% increase from last year.

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COVID-19 has now killed more than 322,000 Americans, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins. This year it’s the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.

“Collectively as a society, this is the hardest thing we’ve had to do — go through COVID. Yes, we’ve been through some times in our lives that haven’t been pleasant. This one has affected us the most severely,” said Bruce Leisy, bereavement coordinator at Saint Luke’s Hospice in Kansas City.

Leisy has helped hundreds of people navigate death and grief. With COVID-19, even healthy people are feeling down from disruptions in normal life.

COVID-19 deathsUS deaths in 2020 top 3 million, by far most ever counted
“Everyone has, in a sense, been infected by the grief virus you know because everyone has had to give up something and there’s a loss in everybody’s life,” Leisy said.

He recommends that people embrace their grief, and let others know how you feel.
Be gentle on yourself and offer grace to others.

“It is cumulative. It just is kind of a layer upon layer, and we have grief fatigue now. We’re all grieving. It’s just been so much,” Leisy said.

If you’ve lost a loved one, honor them and celebrate their lives this season. He said to remember that there’s power in hope, and today is a gift.

“We want to live our best life now. And we can say, ‘Yes, life stinks right now possibly because I can’t do all the things I want to do,’ but look at what you can do,” Leisy said.

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