It’s time to talk about an uncomfortable topic.
Grief is so uncomfortable that many struggle to know what to say to someone experiencing the grief of a sudden, soul-crushing loss. Grief can also sneak up on you. The unfolding coronavirus pandemic is a set-up for this as people can initially be more aware of the other normal responses to this abnormal situation such as shock, anger, fear, worry, stress and anxiety.
Though you may not be aware of grief specifically, it can masquerade as other emotions. Other signals of distress like anger outbursts, tensions in your relationships, paralysis, preoccupation and overall angst can signal grief is underneath.
Like many, you may be using humor to manage your feelings; sharing memes on social media and in text threads (which by the way is a very effective coping tool). But I also encourage you to at least be aware of grief and the possibility that you will encounter it at some point.
Consider just a few of the losses people are experiencing, with more coming:
- Spring Break trips
- bar mitzvahs
- dinners out with friends
- dinners in with friends
- last little league seasons
- Tuesday night darts
- being with classmates at school
- church on Sundays
- high school and college graduations
- book clubs
- hoops at the Y
- movies at the theater
- watching pro sports
- kid birthday parties
- picnics at the park
- teen hangout sessions
- chatting at the local cafe
- time alone
- kids playing with their neighbor on the block
- mall trips
- cardio fitness classes
- family get togethers
- street festivals
- getting an ice cream cone in town
- human connection
- perceived safety
How could there not be grief?? But there are things you may be doing to avoid grief and don’t even know it. Diving into work at home, drinking more alcohol than normal and running for miles are just a few. Or you might be putting a lot of effort into helping others as a way to stay distracted.
Humans are pretty adept at avoiding really uncomfortable feelings but the bottom line is this:
We are in a collective grief for our losses and anticipated losses, with no end in sight.
How to manage your grief > Take a seat next to it. Acknowledge it is there (if you name it, you can tame it), practice self-compassion, talk about it to a trusted other, journal about your feelings now but also your hopes for the future and what you’re looking forward to doing when this is over. Work on your acceptance of the situation. If you are quarantined with children, model these steps to them. They may be struggling with their feelings too and have even less of an ability to process grief.
If you have no awareness of grief, it’s possible you are highly resilient and have been really adept at staying positive through this. Good for you! It also could be you’re not typically comfortable with uncomfortable feelings in life and you’ve defended well against grief for now.
It’s ok not to be ok.
COVID-19 Emotional and Relationship Health Support
For California residents, I provide tele-health therapy via California Online Therapy and Counseling; phone, video or chat options, full and half sessions available. Significantly reduced fees for those in need.
For those outside of California, I offer one-time only educational Consultations (not to be considered therapy) to learn tools to manage COVID-19 related stress, anxiety, relationship tension or grief, etc. All consultations 50% off through the end of April.1