1 Million Covid Deaths In The US Leave Millions Reeling From Difficult Grief

covid deaths in us 7 11 When a person loses a loved one to COVID-19, the mental health effects can be severe. Ol'ga Efimova / EyeEm via Getty Images

COVID-19 was the third-most-common cause of death between March 2020 and October 2021 in the U.S., behind only heart disease and cancer, according to a recent study.

Older adults face the greatest risk of dying from COVID-19, but infection with the coronavirus remains a serious risk for younger people, too. In 2021, COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in adults aged 45 to 54, the second leading cause for adults aged 35 to 44 and the fourth leading cause for those aged 15 to 34.

As sociologists who study population health, we have been assessing how losing a loved one to COVID-19 has affected people’s well-being. Our research shows that more than 9 million people have lost a close relative to COVID-19 in the U.S. This dramatic rise in bereavement is troubling because our research finds that COVID-19 bereavement not only increases people’s risk of depression, but can make them uniquely vulnerable to mental distress.

The distinctness of grieving COVID-19 deaths

Researchers have a sense of what constitutes “good” and “bad” deaths. Bad deaths are those that involve pain or discomfort and happen in isolation. Their unexpectedness also makes these deaths more distressing. People whose loved ones die “bad deaths” tend to report greater mental distress than those whose loved ones died in more favorable circumstances.

COVID-19 deaths often bear many hallmarks of “bad” deaths. They are preceded by physical pain and distress, often occur in isolated hospital settings and happen suddenly – leaving family members unprepared. The ongoing nature of the pandemic has inflicted an added layer of agony, as individuals are grieving during a time of protracted social isolation, economic precarity and general uncertainty.

In another recent study, our team used national survey data from 27 countries to test whether the mental health impacts of COVID-19 deaths are more severe than death from other causes. We focused on the case of spousal death and compared two groups of people: those whose spouses died of COVID-19 in the pandemic’s first wave and those whose spouses died of other causes just before the pandemic began. We found that COVID-19 widows and widowers face higher rates of depression and loneliness than expected based on widow and widower mental health outcomes pre-pandemic.

The secondary population health consequences of COVID-19 deaths

The outsized effects of COVID-19 deaths on grieving spouses’ mental health is troubling because we estimate that nearly 500,000 people have already lost a spouse to COVID-19 in the U.S. alone. The mental health problems that people face after losing a loved one can also lead to declines in physical health and even increase a person’s risk of death.

Our research suggests that COVID-19 not only increased rates of family bereavement, but that people who lost loved ones to the coronavirus were particularly distressed afterward. But we studied only widowhood; future research needs to identify the potentially unique health, social and economic consequences of COVID-19 losses for other bereaved relatives.

With COVID-19 representing 1 in every 8 deaths between March 2020 and October 2021, there are millions of people who could benefit greatly from financial, social and mental health support. It is also critical to continue taking steps to prevent future COVID-19 deaths. Each death averted not only saves a life but also saves numerous loved ones from the harm that follows these tragedies.The Conversation


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

About The Author

Emily Smith-Greenaway, Associate Professor of Sociology, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences; Ashton Verdery, Professor of Sociology, Demography and Social Data Analytics, Penn State; Haowei Wang, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Sociology, Penn State, and Shawn Bauldry, Associate Professor of Sociology, Purdue University


Recommended Books: Health

Fresh Fruit CleanseFresh Fruit Cleanse: Detox, Lose Weight and Restore Your Health with Nature's Most Delicious Foods [Paperback] by Leanne Hall.
Lose weight and feel vibrantly healthy while clearing your body of toxins. Fresh Fruit Cleanse offers everything you need for an easy and powerful detox, including day-by-day programs, mouth-watering recipes, and advice for transitioning off the cleanse.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Thrive FoodsThrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health [Paperback] by Brendan Brazier.
Building upon the stress-reducing, health-boosting nutritional philosophy introduced in his acclaimed vegan nutrition guide Thrive, professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier now turns his attention to your dinner plate (breakfast bowl and lunch tray too).
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Death by Medicine by Gary NullDeath by Medicine by Gary Null, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Carolyn Dean
The medical environment has become a labyrinth of interlocking corporate, hospital, and governmental boards of directors, infiltrated by the drug companies. The most toxic substances are often approved first, while milder and more natural alternatives are ignored for financial reasons. It's death by medicine.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


care

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

MOST READ

baseball player w;ith white hair
Can We Be Too Old?
by Barry Vissell
We all know the expression, "You're as old as you think or feel." Too many people give up on…
is it covid or hay fecer 8 7
Here’s How To Tell If It's Covid or Hay Fever
by Samuel J. White, and Philippe B. Wilson
With warm weather in the northern hemisphere, many people will be suffering from pollen allergies.…
climate change and flooding 7 30
Why Climate Change Is Making Flooding Worse
by Frances Davenport
Although floods are a natural occurrence, human-caused climate change is making severe flooding…
inflation around the world 8 1
Inflation Is Spiking Around The World
by Christopher Decker
The 9.1% increase in U.S. consumer prices in the 12 months ending in June 2022, the highest in four…
made to wear a mask 7 31
Will We Only Act On Public Health Advice If Someone Makes Us?
by Holly Seale, UNSW Sydney
Back in mid 2020, it was suggested mask use was similar to seat belt wearing in cars. Not everyone…
sage smudge sticks, feathers, and a dreamcatcher
Cleansing, Grounding, and Protecting: Two Foundational Practices
by MaryAnn DiMarco
Many cultures have a ritualistic cleansing practice, often done with smoke or water, to help remove…
coffee good or bad 7 31
Mixed Messages: Is Coffee Good Or Bad For Us?
by Thomas Merritt
Coffee is good for you. Or it’s not. Maybe it is, then it isn’t, then it is again. If you drink…
overcoming lonliness 8 4
4 Ways To Recover From Loneliness
by Michelle H Lim
Loneliness isn’t unusual given it’s a natural human emotion. But when ignored or not effectively…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.