Purpose Wellbeing

Coping with Daily Grief in the Midst of Pandemic

Learn some simple techniques for battling grief in the time of COVID-19.

The Challenge

The new reality of navigating grief and loss during the time of COVID-19 is likely not what you anticipated for 2020. Take a moment to write down some things that you are currently grieving, then take a few moments to try one of the suggestions below.

Many of us aren’t feeling like ourselves these days. COVID-19 seems to have turned the world upside down, and even as some communities slowly move toward re-opening, almost nothing feels “normal.” If you’re feeling sadness, anger, exhaustion, or even having difficulty concentrating… you may actually be battling with grief.

While grief is often associated with the loss of a life, it can be present in any type of loss. During this period of isolation, you may be grieving your lack of connection with family and friends, the absence of physical touch or the loss of your routines and rituals. Many are grieving financial loss or setbacks in their careers or academic progress. Almost everyone is feeling some degree of loss in their sense of security. As friends, daughters, partners, mothers and community members, we may also feel grief for the losses of those around us.

In addition, grief may not always present the way we would expect it to. While feelings of sadness, loneliness and crying are symptoms of grief, so are anger, guilt, and forgetfulness. It is common to feel short-tempered or irritable while grieving. You may experience changes with your appetite or sleeping patterns. While some people’s grief drives them to productivity, others may experience difficulty concentrating at all. You may want to be near others, or you may want to be alone.

No matter how you feel, you’re not alone. While grief takes time to resolve, there are some simple things you can do to cope with loss of any kind.

1. Acknowledge and accept your grief, without judgement. 

You are living through a global pandemic, and you’re doing the very best that you can. Resist the urge to feel frustrated or angry with yourself. Whatever your feelings, they are valid and you can only make progress when you accept that they exist. You should also try to avoid the pitfall of comparison when it comes to grief. Even if you feel that someone else’s losses are greater than your own, you won’t do anyone a favor by trying to suppress your own feelings. It’s ok for each of us to experience our own, unique losses, and it doesn’t take away from anyone else’s.

2. Share your grief with trusted friends.

Honor yourself by expressing your feelings with the people that love you. Let them know that you don’t need any solutions, you just need to share.

3. Explore Mindfulness and Gratitude. 

 Try taking one day at a time and being as fully present in that day as you can. Practice mindfulness by taking regular breaks from your day to notice details about the room you’re in or the feelings you’re having. Try focusing for a minute on the inhale and exhale of your breath if you find your thoughts getting away from you. Even when you’re sad or angry, you will also have moments of happiness or humor. Rather than push these away, allow yourself to feel gratitude for the moments of joy. Grief is not a linear process.

4. Take care of yourself the way you would a grieving friend.

Grief can take a physical toll, so make sure you’re getting enough rest and nourishing your body. Try to avoid binging out of sadness… with alcohol, food, or even shopping, as these activities might make you feel worse later. If you’re able to, give yourself the space for self-care by turning down commitments that you don’t have the capacity for and saving time for yourself. Lastly, although it can take work, try to stay connected to your loved ones in whatever ways are safe.

5. Know when to get help.

Grief is normal, but you should find a professional to talk to you if you continue to feel detached, depressed or angry, if you’re struggling with substance abuse, or if you’re unable to complete your essential daily activities. Many insurances cover mental health care. Recent years have also seen a rise in tele and text counseling. Two popular options are: Talkspace and BetterHelp.

Call 911 if you have thoughts of harming yourself or someone else.

Even as we learn to cope with our own grief in a drastically changed world, we need to acknowledge that others are also struggling with their own losses. Remember that grief can cause people to be ill-tempered, short sighted and exhausted, so if you can, exercise extra patience when communicating with family, friends and strangers.

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