COVID-19: Grieving Life As We Know It
Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Times are strange. A recurring theme in session these last couple of weeks is: grief. Grief is something we can normally say knows no gender, race, age, social status, etc. That statement could not be more true these days. Little by little, the last few weeks have changed everyone's lives in drastic ways.
It's okay to grieve.
Grief is natural and normal. The only difference between grieving the loss of a loved one and what the world is experiencing right now is that we are grieving:
Friends and family members
Coffee or lunch dates
...To name a few.
How do I know if I'm grieving?
The chances of you not grieving are unlikely. It's hard to find anyone for which life hasn't changed drastically. For further insight into whether or not you're grieving and where you are in your own process, let's take a look at the stages of grief.
The Five Stages of Grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler
1. Denial - "This isn't that bad- everything is going to go back to normal in a few days/a couple of weeks."
"This is just like the flu- it's really not that serious"
2. Anger - "This is happening because of (enter person, corporation, group of people, etc.)"
"If everyone would just follow recommendations this wouldn't be happening"
3. Bargaining - "God/Universe, I will do x, y, z, if you just let this pass quickly/don't let this get so bad"
4. Depression - "Everything feels hopeless. This is never going to get better. This will never end"
5. Acceptance - "I am doing the best I can. I am staying in the present moment. I am taking care of myself and my family how I know best. These are the facts of the virus, this is what needs to be done right now."
It's important to realize this: no two deaths, or, losses, are ever the same. Just as no two people ever are. Therefore, each person should expect to go through this process in a way that is unique to them. You may be experiencing anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue, exhaustion.... and more.
So how do we move through the process?
My biggest suggestion is first, this: Just. Be. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Take yourself through the anger phase while actually letting yourself experience whatever it is that you need to. Cry, stomp, shout (not at anyone). Take a pillow and scream into it. Take a book and hit it with something. Exercise until you feel your sweat representing the tears of your body.
One thing that keeps coming up for most people is the idea of keeping busy. In previous blogs, I outline ways to take care of yourself- how to keep up that self-care and healthy routine while stuck at home. Those things are important to maintain, however, even more important is allowing yourself to feel whatever heavy feelings come along with this major life change. Too often I experience meeting with a client trying to stop themselves from crying while in session.
Historically speaking, our society has not been the most conducive setting for expressing emotions. This has spilled over into how a lot of our parents raised us: "Stop crying/ don't cry"- or, frantic hushing at the first sign of any distress, for example. This is a much more complex topic than this blog allots for (so stay tuned on future blogs on emotional development and parenting!) - but know this-
Your emotions are a part of you. Feel them, embrace them, and let them move through you. Your feelings will not devour you. Your feelings are valid.
Lastly, stay connected.
To yourself: Journal, pray/meditate, cry.
And, to others: The most unique part of what we are going through right now is that we are all going through it together. We are all grieving, we all understand and can all love and support each other through this.