The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered everyone’s daily lives. During this time, you may be experiencing a range of emotions, such as depression, anxiety, loneliness or anger. These feelings, as well as the sense of discomfort you’re also feeling, could be grief.
Every time people experience loss, they grieve. But most people don’t often think of it that way since grief is often associated with death, dying, bereavement or mourning. But you can also experience grief if a family member is under hospice care at home, you lost your job or are going through a divorce. Feelings of loneliness due to social distancing and self-isolation could also cause grief.
Grief During COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many people are experiencing grief during the pandemic. Grief manifests differently for people. They can either experience anger, anxiety, disbelief, sadness, shock and loss of appetite or sleep.
Sometimes, people are not aware that they are experiencing grief. Some people brush it off as ‘just a phase’ or think that they are going through a simple mood swing. However, if grief is not addressed, it may cause an individual to struggle with their emotions. Identifying grief can be a relief since it can help put what you are feeling into context.
As mentioned above, death is not the only cause of grief during this pandemic. New research on grief and loss during COVID-19 makes a distinction between two types of losses: primary and secondary. Primary losses are linked to major life events such as job loss or the loss of a loved one. Public health measures to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19 have led to secondary losses, such as the loss of social support, relationships and recreation.
Many people are grieving the loss of their freedom or their ability to connect with people in ways that matter to them.
Everyone experiences grief differently. There’s nothing predictable about it so there is no way to tell someone that ‘This can happen’ or ‘This is how you should respond when it does happen.’ Even for people who have experienced grief before, the experience is unique. Instead of telling people or yourself how to deal with it, it’s best to embrace the grieving process.
Embracing the Grieving Process
If you are experiencing grief, refrain from suppressing or avoiding the feelings. Today’s society may tell you to look as if you’ve got it all together; don’t listen to them. Instead, embrace the grieving process. Loss, after all, is an intrinsic part of life. It’s impossible to go through life without experiencing some loss. It’s important to give yourself time and space to mourn.
Grief is a natural yet heavy response to loss. There is no right or wrong ways to experience it. There are commonalities, but the response to loss is different for each person. To embrace grief, know that your feelings are valid. Accept them and acknowledge their presence.
Don’t hesitate to process your grief at your pace, even if it consumes your time. There are, however, some situations in life when it makes sense to postpone your grieving process. For example, if you need to focus on keeping your family safe or you need to find a new job, you may not be able to grieve immediately. This doesn’t mean you should push it away, though. Allow those surges to come and grieve as soon as you have the chance.
Seek Medical Assistance from an Expert
Therapy can help you manage your grief, as well as other emotional struggles. A licensed mental health counselor can help you understand what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling them and how to cope with them. They can also explain how grief looks like over the course of time. Apart from teaching you coping skills, they listen to you, enabling you to express all of your emotions without judgment.
Having guidance on grief can give you some stability during these uncertain times. Granted, the initial step to seeing a mental health expert can be hard and overwhelming. Fortunately, many therapists offer teletherapy services during the pandemic, which may feel more comfortable compared to going to therapy in-person.
It’s OK Not to Be OK
If grief has hampered your routines or productivity, give yourself a break. Be patient with yourself. If you are struggling to function, cut your tasks into smaller pieces so you can easily manage your daily tasks.
Also, reach out to your loved ones. While social distancing is a must, you can still connect with family and friends through phone calls, video chats, texts and emails. Do what you soothe your emotions such as painting, reading or watching business movies.
Grief is a natural part of life, but you need not walk through it alone. Allow yourself to grieve; do not feel guilty about it. Talk to someone and be open with your emotions. Embrace grief to eventually experience joy in the future.