At least 11 couples in NL killed by coronavirus; Victim Support to aid affected families

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Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands, at least 11 couples have died of the virus, AD reports based on its own research. Losing multiple family members at the same time can make mourning for them extra complicated, clinical psychologist Jos de Keijser said to the newspaper. From Monday, Victim Support Netherlands is available to assist the relatives of people in intensive care with Covid-19.

Over the past weeks, mainly elderly couples in Berlicum, Someren, Alverna, Prinsenbeek, Maasbracht, Epe, Hardewijk, Erp, Oss, Weert and, Ommen succumbed to the coronavirus. Some partners died within a week of each other, others within hours, AD reports based on its own study of obituaries. The number may well be higher, as there may be cases in which the coronavirus was not officially diagnosed, and not all deaths are reported in the media.

There are also multiple cases of siblings both dying of the virus. "Of course it often happens that housemates infect each other," a spokesperson for GGD Brabant-Zuidoost said to the newspaper. The municipal health service investigates all the people each Covid-19 patient had contact with, but does not keep specific track of the number of deaths within a family. 

"It is very difficult and confusing for relatives, losing several people at the same time. Mourning them and saying goodbye to them are therefore mixed up," clinical psychologist Jos de Keijser said to AD. He is a professor at the University of Groningen and studies complex grief. He was one of the scientists who studied the grieving process of relatives of the MH17 victims. According to De Keijser, Covid-19 and the MH17 disaster are comparable on some points. "There too, couples, even whole families, suddenly died," he said. And in Covid-19 cases, it can be difficult to say goodbye. "You can barely reach the ICU. And the funeral must be very limited, it is not as you would like for a loved one."

From Monday, people who have a relative in intensive care can request aid from Victim Support Netherlands, NOS reports. The support organization is concerned about how traumatic it can be for people to have little or no contact with their loved ones in hospital. In an effort to prevent further Covid-19 contamination, there are severe restrictions on visitation in ICU. Sometimes, family can't even say goodbye if a loved one dies. 

That is very drastic, Rosa Jansen of Victim Support Netherlands said to the broadcaster. "Providing help early reduces the chance of longer lasting psychological complaints."