Written by the Renew & Revitalize Life Coaching Team
Coping with grief is hard for anyone under normal circumstances, but the difficult situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more so. Not only have people been dealing with higher levels of anxiety as a result of the virus, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders, but losing loved ones has been an even more stressful ordeal. In addition to deaths that occur from causes we usually face, the death rate from COVID-19 infection is around 5.2%. With infection rates rising across the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult for many to deal with loss.
Why Is Grief More Difficult During the Pandemic?
There are several reasons it is more challenging to deal with grief during these trying times. Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating things we go through in life, and being surrounded by illness, anxiety, and fear only compounds the situation. Consider these reasons that grief is harder during these times.
- Seeing constant reminders of the death and devastation being caused by the pandemic on television and social media takes a toll on the psyche, even if a person has not lost a loved one.
- Feelings of instability while grieving are exacerbated by high levels of occupational, health, and social uncertainty.
- With sheltering in place and a lack of “normal” activities to act as healthy distractions, people are left with more alone time to dwell on their losses.
- Not being able to spend as much time with friends and loved ones creates an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and isolation.
- Restrictions on visiting loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes during their final hours make the loss especially painful and devastating.
How to Deal With Grief More Effectively
The inability to see others in person makes dealing with grief especially hard, as it is human nature to wish to discuss feelings of loss. Dr. M. Katherine Shear, of Columbia University, tells New York-Presbyterian’s Health Matters newsletter: “It helps most people to just be heard when we are holding a lot of emotional pain. …” If you are suffering the loss of a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic, here are a few tips that may help you to cope.
- Journal your thoughts and feelings. If you can’t verbally express your grief to someone you care about right now, get it out on paper.
- Take your time. Everyone grieves at a different pace, so don’t feel rushed to “get past your feelings” or to “move on with your life.” You are entitled to as much time as you need.
- Accept your feelings. You are going to experience a lot of different emotions as you deal with grief. Accept that you are going to go through a rollercoaster ride and that you will not like some of the feelings, but that you will work through them.
- Seek comfort as you need it. Even though you may be physically separated from your support system at this time, reach out to them if you need to talk. Phone calls and Facetime, although not the same as talking in person, can provide a great deal of comfort when you need it.
Regardless of how you approach grief, it is a process that is never going to be easy. The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic adds to the already difficult process, but it doesn’t make your grief insurmountable. Always reach out for help if your feelings become more than you can endure alone.