Grief and loss are both very complex emotional processes for humans to experience. Learning to adjust to life after any big change requires a lot of patience – it’s a long process and can last a whole lifetime.
When we think of loss, our thoughts immediately go to the passing of a loved one, but loss and mourning come in many other forms and affect each person differently. We can feel a similar sense of loss and grief after losing out on something we really wanted when we experience a big change (even if it’s only an inner change), a loss of a relationship, and other similar feelings.
This is particularly relevant as we all try to deal with loneliness, grief, and loss in a time of COVID-19. This pandemic has been the cause of so much grief, both in the sense of losing lives and in the sense of lost opportunities and a loss of your way of life and routine.
Grief and loss, and how to process them
Grief is a natural response to loss and usually features a number of stages. These stages consist of denial, where we try to convince ourselves that this loss has not occurred, anger, where we look for someone or something to blame, bargaining, where we think “what if this hadn’t happened”, and depression, where we experience low moods and sadness. Finally, we experience acceptance, which brings hope. It should be noted that these steps aren’t always chronological, and it’s common for people to go between these phases as their circumstances change.
Coronavirus has cost thousands of people their routines, jobs, regularly seeing friends and family, education, and put a pause on all the things we do to socialize and seek excitement. Whether it’s a traveling opportunity, a sports season, a family gathering, or a graduation ceremony, we’ve all had to seriously adjust our expectations about what activities and events are feasible, and many of us have had to process no longer following through on our plans.
For example, the loss of the football season here in Columbus has left a huge gap in the lives of people here, as we normally follow the college football season, and get excited when OSU Football starts! The empty football stadiums and lack of games to watch have been and will be particularly isolating, and so it’s only natural that many of us here – and around the country – experience feelings of grief, even if we don’t identify those feelings as such.
Here are some things you can do to process properly and mourn any loneliness, grief & loss, you’ve experienced in the time of COVID-19:
1. Acknowledge how you feel
Many people believe that expressing sadness or anger makes them weak in the face of adversity, especially if it’s not a life and death situation. This can be a huge hindrance to a person’s healing process, and can only make things worse in the long run. By acknowledging your emotions and accepting that grief is a process, you’re giving yourself the best chance of healing in a healthy way.
2. Be patient with yourself
It’s important to remember that loss happens to everyone, and everyone deals with their loss in unique ways. Don’t feel guilty about the emotions you feel, because that’ll only make your healing process longer and harder. Your grieving process belongs to you, and nobody can tell you how to feel.
3. Seek help
Whether you’ve just experienced loss or struggling to adjust, speaking to a professional is always beneficial. A trained therapist will give you tools to help you process your emotions and figure them out.
4. Stay in tune with your body
It’s easy to see grief and loneliness as mental issues, but they can also be very physical. Physical sensations like nausea, fatigue, insomnia, aches, and pains are common sensations when someone is in mourning. These symptoms are all commonly associated with anxiety and depression, which are two mental health issues that often work alongside grief.
While this year has provided many challenges for people in every walk of life, we should all bear in mind that things can and will improve. We should not deny the pain we have experienced as a result of this pandemic- rather, we should acknowledge it. Talking about loss is a vital part of lessening the load, and collective healing can certainly be achieved through expression, honesty, and empathy. If you feel like you’re unable to manage the feelings you are having, or would simply like to talk to someone through this time, we’re here to help.
Talking to a therapist is like seeing a personal trainer for your mind – it’s something anyone can do if they want some extra guidance on how to feel as strong and healthy mentally as possible. If you’re interested in finding out more about talking to one of our therapists, click here.