Coping With Grief During the Pandemic
In March of 2020, the entire world was hit with a bombshell, the Coronavirus. This past year has been an incredibly difficult year for so many people. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in a lot of different ways and has changed many people’s lives.
What Is Grief Exactly?
Grief is defined as being a response to a loss, in particular, the loss of someone or something. Furthermore, grief is the loss of anything to which a bond, relationship, or affection was formed. Grief is usually focused on the emotional response to loss, but it can also be physical, behavioral, cognitive, social, cultural, spiritual, or philosophical. Grief can also happen as a result of drastic changes to daily routines or ways of life that bring us stability and/or comfort. Anytime we experience a loss, we grieve.
Grief can have both physical and psychological effects on an individual. Some of the signs and symptoms of grief can include:
● Excess fatigue
● Loss of appetite or sleep
● Muscle weakness
As difficult as grief is on a person, it can also have some positive aspects. Grief can make you feel grateful and more appreciative of what you’ve got and your relationships. It may give you the desire to want to help others that have gone through or may be going through the same thing. Also, you could develop new relationships out of it.
Grief During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In March of 2020, the Coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic forced most of the country to shut down. People have lost loved ones, jobs, relationships, social support, and recreation. People have lost their freedom!
Measures to stop the spread of the virus has closed businesses, schools, and churches, and has had people confined to their homes. Many people have sick or disabled loved ones in hospitals, nursing homes, or other care facilities, and they have been unable to visit them for months. People are dying alone and without being able to see their loved ones and/or say goodbye.
Healthcare workers and first responders are experiencing a surge in deaths. People are having to quarantine and separate themselves from others. And due to social distancing, large gatherings such as weddings or funerals are being limited to only a small number of people. There are a lot of people experiencing grief and loss, and some people may not even realize it.
According to the National Institute of Health:
Grief is an ongoing and important factor of the COVID-19 pandemic that affects patients, families, and medical providers. Some grief processes are novel related to social distancing/isolation, uncertainty/self-blame related to infection, and the inability to implement usual burials/funerals. Others are typically experienced near the end of life but are occurring on an unprecedented scale that has the potential to have devastating individual/societal effects in the short and long term. Based on their training and expertise in working with patients near EOL, palliative care providers are perfectly positioned to serve as a resource to their colleagues in other specialties. Understanding the complexities of this grief, in addition to accessing and sharing resources for improved communication, telehealth, ACP, and self-care, is an important component to supporting patients, families, colleagues, and ourselves. (NIH)
As difficult as it is, grief is a part of life. We all experience loss during our lives. Unexpected and unpredictable loss can make grieving a lot more difficult, but avoiding or suppressing our feelings will only make things a lot harder.
Also, a lot of our comfort is nonverbal, this is why coping during this pandemic is so much more difficult. With the amount of loss that everyone is and has experienced, it is so important to know how to cope, so that we are taking care of ourselves especially our mental health.
How Do You Cope With Grief During the Pandemic?
One of the first things we must know when trying to cope with loss is that our feelings are valid. We may not even know or understand why this has happened and replaying the “what ifs” in our head only prolongs the healing process and makes things harder. Here are some other ways to cope:
● Allow yourself to feel – it’s okay to cry or be sad.
● Staying connected – sometimes just talking to someone can help us. Stay in touch with friends and family. Call, text, video chat, or use social media to stay connected with them. Reach out to others who are experiencing similar situations. Pets can also provide great emotional support.
● Create memories or rituals – Create a blog or memory book and ask friends and family to share the memories and stories they have with your loved ones with you. Plant a tree or do an activity in memory of your loved one.
● Ask for help from others – seek out support from your church, support groups, mental health services, through counseling, or from trusted friends.
● Create an adaptive routine – exercise, hobbies, worship services, or other activities that may help you cope. Make sure you are eating healthy and getting enough sleep.
● Limit the amount of news you are watching – Reading or watching the news too much can increase your anxiety. Sometimes you just have to turn it all off and take a break.
● Be creative – cook, do art, garden, or create something. It may make you feel better.
● Music – put your headphones or earbuds in and listen to some music or maybe a podcast or something that relaxes you.
It’s important to focus on today or the present, and the things that you can control. Things will eventually get better as you begin to adjust. If you find yourself having trouble coping, it may be a good idea to seek out help from a mental health provider.
Treatment for Mental Illness
If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental illness, our mental health experts are available to assist you around the clock. Voices of Mental Health has a standing passion for helping others achieve peace, serenity, and fulfillment. We will help you access top treatment centers with caring and supportive assistance. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
Cayla Clark, BA
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.