The COVID-19 pandemic has upended, at least for now, life as we’ve known it. Last year saw the loss of our old routines and the freedoms that came with it, and various emotions have hit most of us hard. Chief among those have been the feelings of grief and loss. Grief is usually associated with death, but it can come with any type of loss – such as financial loss, the loss of family celebrations, social gatherings with friends, and doing such mundane things as going to the hair salon and eating at restaurants. We’ve had to cancel much anticipated trips, postpone weddings and deal with the overwhelming stress of online learning for our kids and their loss of such milestones as graduations.
On top of these losses, and the grief we feel about it, many of us have also lost beloved family and friends, whether to the coronavirus or other causes. Addressing and dealing with the death of a loved one can be especially hard during the pandemic. We are used to grieving with others and leaning on them both physically and mentally for support – something which is difficult or even impossible to do right now with social distancing. Not having these usual traditions to help us cope makes it that much harder to accept and grieve a death.
Here are ways to help you during the grieving process:
Recognizing and acknowledging grief is the first step in dealing with it. Take time to grieve because it is the process by which you heal. There is no deadline for grief, and people heal at different rates. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that accompany your grief which can include shock, numbness, denial, anger, fear, anxiety, panic and guilt. Don’t judge yourself for feeling any of these emotions. Also, allow yourself to feel positive emotions. Don’t think you can never feel joy, or happiness, or that you shouldn’t be laughing.
Find a way to say goodbye. If you’re mourning a death, rituals are very important in the grieving process, especially when you can’t say goodbye in person. You can write a letter to the person you lost, light a candle in their memory, make a special meal they loved or create a photo book of you and your loved one.
Connect with family and friends. People with strong social support tend to cope better after a significant loss. Even if the situation doesn’t allow physical contact, you can call or video chat with your family and friends. Reach out to your religious organization if you have one, or neighbors, co-workers and online support groups.
Take care of yourself. An important part of coping with grief is self-care. Be sure to get enough rest, eat healthy, exercise, and take the time each day to do an activity that you love. Don’t drink or use drugs to numb the pain, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
No matter what type of loss you experience, it is important to remember that your feelings are valid. Some people feel guilty about being so upset over the loss of their normal way of life when they know others are suffering more. But smaller losses are real and valid, as well, and grieving them is important. Give yourself permission to mourn and treat yourself and others with kindness during this difficult time. While the coronavirus has brought uncertainty, disruptive changes, and loss, look for the good it may have brought into our lives, such as closer bonds with family and friends, and the realization of what is truly important in our lives.
Source: WorkPlace Options