What have you been feeling as you are going through this pandemic? Many people have been feeling some grief and sense of loss.
There is so much to grieve amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. There have been many lives lost in our state, our country and the world. At this time we see that the number of those getting sick and dying from the virus is growing in Minnesota. There has already been a great loss of life and no one seems able to tell us how long this pandemic will go on.
As you may know, Doug’s mother didn’t have the virus, but she recently passed away. Of course, we are experiencing grief. Grief is commonly associated with the loss of a loved one. As we thought more about grief, there are several types of grief and loss that we and others are facing during this pandemic.
There’s loss of everyday comforts such as being in control, having freedom, and enjoying get-togethers as we used to do. Graduations and many other events have been canceled or postponed indefinitely. We empathize with high school and college graduates who missed their final year with all the special times.
There can be stress with loss of space and quiet time with having everyone home together all day. Also, concerning basic needs, there are problems in the economy with lost jobs, businesses folding and people feeling a financial squeeze.
The many and varied losses people are experiencing during this time can elicit negative emotions. Besides the sense of grief and loss, emotions such as anxiety, fear, guilt and even depression can crop up on a consistent basis. These feelings may be uncomfortable, but they are a normal reaction to a crisis, such as a pandemic. Here are some ways to deal with those feelings
Acknowledge your feelings: Acknowledging how you feel allows you to address those feelings. David Kessler, leading grief expert, said, “When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion.” It’s easy to think that you shouldn’t feel negative emotions over many of the things you miss. It can be tempting to feel as though you have no right to feel the sadness or frustration regarding the losses in your life.
However, it’s important to realize how you feel, rather than trying to hide or be in denial about those feelings. Acknowledging your feelings helps prevent angry outbursts and unhealthy behavior. It also allows you to process those emotions and release them so you can take positive action.
Take a break: Definitely get what you need to know from the news, but then avoid a stream of sad, negative news or conversations that can actually heighten your feelings of grief and loss. Counselor Chelsea Alarcon said that doing something enjoyable helps keep you from “spiraling down to despair.” Recently we mentioned that taking a break by watching something like positive movies or TV shows, and getting outside in nature can lessen negative feelings and help to maintain sanity and peace of mind.
Get support: You are not alone in what you are experiencing. Many people are dealing with similar emotions and frustrations. We encourage you to build your support system. Often family, friends, and leaders from your place of worship can be there for you. Also, there are online groups where you can interact with others experiencing the same feelings. If your emotional feelings are severe, we encourage you to reach out for help. Doctors, counselors, group therapy and teletherapy can be supportive. When you have a support system, you have people you can confide in. They can help uplift you and provide you with resources.
We are all definitely facing an unprecedented challenge with this pandemic. These times are also unpredictable, so it is difficult to make plans with specific dates attached to them. Since we don’t know timelines, it’s easy to feel out of control. But with help and knowing we are not alone, we can overcome negative feelings.
How about you? How are you feeling during this pandemic?
By acknowledging your feelings, taking a break when it’s overwhelming, and getting the support you need, it will help you make it through. Let’s also remember to help each other in the best way we can, so we all come out and better when this challenging time is over.