Whether due to the virus or another health complication, the experience of losing a loved one during the pandemic is especially painful for many. Due to the restrictions put in place with the intent of preventing the spread of the virus, many were not able to be with their loved ones during their final moments of life.
Furthermore, the loss of the typical communal experience of grief that takes place during funerals or other memorial ceremonies can cause us to feel as though we are forced to process our feelings of sadness over the loss of our loved one alone.
We have all experienced grief and loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. Grief is typically thought of as the emotional reaction that occurs as a result of the loss of a loved one — but grief can occur as the result of any type of loss.
In addition to loved ones, we can also become emotionally attached to other aspects of our lives, whether it be a job, certain routines and activities, a specific place, or our sense of freedom. Any sort of change to our routine that is beyond our control can trigger a response of grief.
Let us help you understand how to cope with grief and loss that you’ve experienced in the COVID-19 pandemic.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF GRIEF
In some cases, you may be dealing with negative internal experiences while being unsure of exactly why they are taking place. In order to deal with grief and loss effectively, you must first be able to recognize that this is what you are experiencing.
A few signs that you may be experiencing grief are:
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Anger and irritability
- Insomnia or increased sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Inability to stop thinking about the source of grief
- Trouble concentrating
4 TIPS FOR DEALING WITH GRIEF AND LOSS AS A RESULT OF THE PANDEMIC
1. ACKNOWLEDGE AND ACCEPT YOUR EXPERIENCE
Because of the plethora of ways the world as we know it has changed for all of us, you may not even know that you are currently struggling with feelings of grief and loss. In addition, you may feel guilt for experiencing these emotions due to knowing that other people have had worse experiences happen to them or much greater losses.
For instance, you might feel bad for being sad about the loss of a vacation or a special event such as a graduation or wedding, knowing that others have had to endure the incredibly painful experience of losing a loved one for good.
No matter the level of loss, grieving is an acceptable emotion. The validity of your grief should not be compared to what others are experiencing. Allow yourself to cry and feel sadness without feelings of guilt. Being able to accept your own emotional response of grief is the first step toward processing your experience in a healthy manner.
2. CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Connecting with others virtually can still be a meaningful experience, even if it’s not your preferred way of enjoying the company of your loved ones. Some families who have had to endure the loss of a loved one during the pandemic have held virtual memorial services for their family members.
Although this may not be ideal, having these collective experiences can still be extremely meaningful as a way to grieve collectively and honor the memory of the lost loved one.
You can also connect with others virtually in place of usual in-person activities. Especially if you live alone, try to talk with at least one other person each day to mitigate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Examples of activities you can do with a friend over the phone or video chat include playing a game, watching a movie, or having dinner together.
3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
Our perceived sense of a loss of freedom or loss of routine can cause a profound sense of grief. However, you still have control over your response to these feelings. Try to monitor and manage your thoughts and recognize when they might be starting to take control.
Activities that can help you manage your thoughts include meditation, deep breathing, exercise, or talking to a loved one. Although it can be difficult to get started, finding joy in a new creative outlet such as cooking, gardening, writing, or painting as a means of self-expression can also be incredibly helpful.
4. KNOW HOW TO REACH OUT FOR OUTSIDE SUPPORT
Even with lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders in place, you do not have to go through your experiences of grief alone. Support from a licensed therapist could help you work through the difficult and complicated emotion of grief.
As a result of the restrictions in place due to the pandemic, more and more counseling services are available without even leaving your home via online therapy or phone therapy. Although many people prefer in-person counseling, the accessibility of mental health services online without having to worry about travel time and expenses can be extremely beneficial.
At Lisa Rogers Counseling, we specialize in treatment areas such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse — all of which can be amplified by experiences of grief. Contact Lisa Rogers counseling to schedule a teletherapy appointment today.