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Opinion |  Every death from Covid-19 leaves behind a circle of grief

The social effects can also be dramatic. Almost 90 percent of young people in the juvenile justice system report having experienced the death of at least one loved one. And although grieving is a universal experience, it can contribute to racial inequality across the lifespan, as black Americans experience the loss of loved ones much more frequently and earlier in life than white Americans. which contributes to the differences in mental and physical health outcomes.

“Bereavement should be studied the same way we look at other public health indicators like obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption,” said Dr Toni Miles, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at College of Public Health at the University of Georgia.

After conducting a statewide health survey three years ago, Dr Miles found that 45% of Georgia residents over the age of 18 reported that they had just died. The results suggested that bereavement was much more common than the other three risk factors, she said.

Viewing bereavement as a threat to overall health could pave the way for prevention efforts – including financial assistance – that help individuals navigate life-changing changes, such as changes in family income and housing. . “We need systemic change to protect those who are left behind,” Dr. Miles told me.

A White House bereavement care office is a necessary start and could benefit families who have lost loved ones to other causes, such as gun violence. There are early signs that this administration may be the one to adopt bereavement care. As of Monday, people who have paid for the funeral and burial costs of a person who died of Covid-19 can claim up to $ 9,000 in reimbursement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently announced.

Mr. Biden has often spoken from experience of the scars grief can leave and what it is like to face the “empty chair around the kitchen table.” He has the opportunity to reduce the toll the loss places on his victims and on all of us.

Allison Gilbert (@agilbertwriter) is an author and speaker. His latest book is “Past and Present: Keeping the Memories of Loved Ones Alive”.

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