The coronavirus pandemic has caused a disruption in daily routines and current and future plans. Trips and special events have been cancelled or postponed. Other than immediate family, there is a lot less social interaction. Friends and family members may be fighting the virus alone, and some might have lost their battle in isolation. Due to all of the loss during the coronavirus, including the loss of normalcy, you may be experiencing grief.
Grief During The Coronavirus
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of change. All of the uncertainty due to the coronavirus can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. Daily routines, job security, and financial stability can be drastically different today. Many people are feeling a deep sense of loss. There are many types of grief you might be experiencing at this time. You could be grieving the loss of social interaction. There could be grief around feelings of safety and security. Maybe you lost your job or your income decreased. If you lost a loved one to the virus, your grief might be compounded. The typical rituals around death, and the comfort and support they often provide is drastically different at this time. There may even be guilt around not being able to be with your sick loved one. No matter why you may be grieving, remember that grief is a process.
Signs of Grief
Any loss can cause grief. Grief is a normal response to experiencing a loss. During the coronavirus pandemic, you might also experience anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief refers to the belief that more loss is going to occur. Those experiencing anticipatory grief often experience sadness, anger, and loneliness. There may be a great deal of fear about what is going to happen next. During the coronavirus, as you struggle with what might happen and distant support, signs of grief may be different. You could experience shock, anger, and sadness. However, you may also have trouble concentrating, experience body aches, have sleep issues, or eat more or less than usual. You could also experience feelings related to past loss and may hyperfocus on everything related to the coronavirus. On the other hand, you could refuse to talk or think about the virus at all.
The Grieving Process
The five stages of grief according to Elizabeth Kübler-Ross include, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. You may go back and forth between the stages, stay at one stage for awhile, or skip some stages. Denial numbs the shock until you are able to cope. Anger provides an outlet for your feelings, even though it masks the deeper emotions that you are not ready for. Bargaining can help you postpone your sadness as you try to find ways to control the outcome. There are a lot of “what if” statements in bargaining. Depression enables you to get in touch with some of your deeper feelings. You may isolate yourself and stop engaging in activities you used to enjoy. Acceptance means you acknowledge the loss and understand what it means in your life. If you are experiencing coronavirus grief, there are some things you can do to help.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Loss experienced or anticipated is hard to process. Your feelings are valid and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief is experienced differently by different people and it takes time to heal. Sometimes, just acknowledging that you are grieving can be helpful. When you ignore your feelings, you avoid processing them. By acknowledging and validating your feelings, you can begin to feel them, process them, and start healing. It is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. There is no reason to compare your loss to others. You can grieve, you can feel, and you can heal, no matter what type of loss you are dealing with during the pandemic.
Make sure you are practicing good self-care. In the beginning of the grieving process, this can simply mean eating and getting enough sleep. Exercising, following a daily routine, and engaging in relaxing activities can also be beneficial. As you go through the grieving process, effective coping skills can be added. Mindfulness, meditation, and visualization techniques can be helpful during the grieving process. Writing about your experience and feelings, or keeping a daily gratitude journal can also be beneficial. No matter how you practice self-care, be gentle with yourself and remember that grief is a process.
Although social distancing is needed at this time, if you are experiencing grief, you will need support. Reach out to friends and loved ones. Share your experience and your feelings. You don’t have to go through this alone. Set up regular video conferences with your support group. Call your close friends and encourage them to share as well. Sometimes just knowing that you are not alone can make a big difference in your grief. If you are having difficulty coping and it is having a negative impact on your daily functioning and emotional well-being, you can seek help from a professional. Many therapists and psychiatrists are offering virtual sessions now.
If you are struggling with a sense of loss during the coronavirus, remember that grief is a normal response. Grief is a process and healing requires time. Give yourself and others the time and attention needed to grieve effectively. Although things may be different now, healing is still possible.