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grief during a pandemic - grief counseling nassau county

Understanding Grief During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down and created a reality that is marked by pain and loss. Most social events including concerts, weddings, parties, schools, and many more have been canceled as the world continues to grapple with the health and economic effects of the pandemic. We are collectively going through a feeling of loss. Not only have we lost millions of lives to this pandemic but the normalcy we knew is gone. The mundane activities we used to enjoy in the past are no longer tenable and anxiety has become a major part of our lives now. 

Grief Can Be Triggered By Any Type of Loss

Grief is an emotion which most people experience several times over the course of their lives. Normally, we tend to associate grief with losses related to death. However, the truth of the matter is that grief can be triggered by any kind of loss. For instance, people often experience grief when they lose their job or get divorced from a spouse. The COVID-19 pandemic has created more causes of grief including:

  • Financial stress and anxiety
  • Loss of employment
  • Anxiety about personal safety and loved ones
  • Isolation due to quarantine and social distancing
  • Changes in habits and routines
  • Cancellation/suspension of social events
  • Uncertainty about the future

Are You Experiencing Anticipatory Grief?

In addition to the loss of normalcy, most people are also struggling with anticipatory grief and a strong fear of what the future holds. Anticipatory grief usually occurs before a loss, typically after a loved one has been struggling with a prolonged (terminal) illness. The person who is ill and their loved ones may experience feelings of grief as they mentally and emotionally prepare for the inevitable loss. 

People who are going through anticipatory grief typically experience sadness, anger, and hopelessness over the situation. In addition to this, they may feel lonely and isolated as they grapple with the impending death of their loved one. 

Grief Due to Unexpected Death

Many people have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and are grieving the unexpected death. The fact that we are no longer able to gather with our loved ones under these circumstances makes it harder to support each other in times of grief. This can make it even harder to cope with grief. 

If you have lost a close relative or friend to COVID-19, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Guilt
    You may be experiencing feelings of guilt especially because you were unable to support your loved ones while they were going through the illness.
  • Lack of Closure
    The inability to spend time with an ailing loved one prior to their passing can deprive family members of the closure they need and prolong the grieving process.
  • Feeling Isolated
    While grief is a deeply private and lonely process under normal circumstances, the fact that we now have to social distance and quarantine ourselves can make it even more difficult to process grief.

Signs and Symptoms of Grief

Some of the signs and symptoms that you may be grieving during this pandemic period include:

  • Inability to focus
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Headaches and stomach problems
  • Fatigue
  • Avoiding conversations about the pandemic

How to Cope with Grief

There are a number of things that you can do to cope better with the grief and loss that you are experiencing during this time. These include:

  • Make Self-care Part of Your Routine
    Try to be kinder to yourself by ensuring you eat well, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. This will help ease the pressure on your body and mind.
  • Take Your Time to Process Your Grief
    While grief is a very uncomfortable emotion to sit with, you need to avoid rushing it and allow yourself to go through the process in your own time. It is only in doing so that you will be able to heal.
  • Acknowledge Your Feelings
    It is important to remind yourself that grief is a normal human emotion that everyone goes through at one point. Don’t shy away from your grief or see it as a sign of weakness.
  • Reach Out to Loved Ones
    While physical gatherings with family and friends may not be possible right now, try to keep in touch with your loved ones through phone calls and video calls so that you can support each other during this difficult time.

A Final Word

Regardless of the kind of loss you are grappling with during this time, it is important that you treat yourself with compassion and kindness. This will help you to cope with your grief and heal faster.

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