As the social distancing and gathering rules become less stringent, there will be more opportunities to be in a group setting whether at a dinner party, at work, a wedding, a bar or bat mitzvah or attending a funeral, shiva or memorial service. However it is important to keep in mind that people will have varying levels of comfort and some may choose to continue to avoid gatherings altogether. In time, people may become more comfortable, however if symptoms get worse or persist for months or even years, and interfere or continue to alter day-to-day functioning, it may be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event — like a pandemic. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety. In a post Covid-19 or Coronavirus context, people also may have uncontrollable thoughts about germs, death, illness, coughing, gatherings, crowds and more.

Most individuals who experience traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually improve. Often instead of PTSD, the person is feeling grief. Webster's Dictionary defines grief as "intense emotional suffering caused by loss, disaster, misfortune, etc.; acute sorrow; deep sadness. A death, the loss of a job,the loss of “normalcy” can lead to discomfort and grieving. Click here for more information on grief and coping.

How does PTSD work?

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years later. These symptoms can cause problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They also can interfere with a persons’ ability to engage in typical daily activities.

Getting effective treatment from your physician or a mental health provider after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.

Planning a funeral or other gathering post Covid-19

When planning a funeral, shiva or memorial it is important to remember people are at varying stages in their post Covid-19 healing and comfort. A funeral director will assist in creating a safe and appropriate service for those who will attend a funeral, shiva or memorial service, including celebration of life. In addition, the funeral director also can coordinate a Viewneral™ an interactive and virtual funeral where people can attend from the comfort of their home.

It is also recommended that you communicate to your guests any precautions or rules that might take place at the gathering. The funeral director also can help communicate any personal space, distancing boundaries and more. Click here for more information on Post COVID-19 Planning a Funeral: “New Normal”.

*Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. If you think you may be suffering from PTSD, please contact a mental health expert.