Grieving During Coronavirus
By Nicole Pajer – The Health Exchange
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the world, leaving a lot of loss in its wake.
“Not only is there incredible loss of life, but also loss of health, finances and special occasions, such as weddings and graduations – among other significant losses,” said Rebecca Cowan, a core faculty member in Walden University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. And everyone at the moment is grieving to a certain degree, said David Kessler, founder of Grief.com
“There is a collective grief we are feeling that the world we knew a month ago is gone forever,” he said. “People have been saying, “I don’t know what’s going on. I was crying when I woke up this morning,” or “I am feeling so heavy and sad.’ And the reality is that feeling you’ve got is grief.” While “grief on a good day is isolating,” people need extra support during this particular time of bereavement.
“Now, we’re actually told to physically isolate in our isolation. So, it is grief on top of grief and isolation on top of isolation,” he said. That’s why, he added, it’s important to provide support to a loved one who is hurting during this time.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
Here are some ways you can be there for those who may need you right now:
Don’t minimize THE SITUATION
It’s human nature to say things like: “Oh, she can have another wedding,” or, “You can have a graduation party.” But the reality is that a couple’s wedding day as they envisioned and planned it is gone. A student’s graduation ceremony is gone. Sure, a special event can be virtual-based or a party can be rescheduled but at the end of the day, someone is feeling a legitimate loss.
VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS
In times of sorrow, people need to know that it’s okay to feel a certain way. So an example of validating someone in this state would be to say: “It is so sad that you’re not getting to go to school and able to be with your friends” or “It is really sad that you had a huge project at work and now it’s been put on hold.”
WHAT THEIR FEELING IS NORMAL
There are no right or wrong feelings, just actions we take based on those feelings that may or may not work for us. The feelings we experience during the grieving process may be something so new to people, so normalizing the experience for them is an amazing first step.
REACH OUT REGULARLY
Think of ways to continue to provide and receive support during this challenging time. Touching base could go a long way, even if you simply send a card, email or text. Use technology to your advantage and arrange Skype or FaceTime calls with friends who are struggling. People in grief probably need more face time than just a text. Grievers do not need us any less, in fact, they need it more and it is paramount that they have support and a connection with others.
ASK THEM WHAT WOULD HELP
Don’t assume that what may have worked for you in your grieving process will work for everyone else. Specifically asking the person you are assisting how they would like you to support them. And if they don’t know at that moment, make suggestions and ask if it would be helpful – for example, offering to help them to plan a virtual funeral or arranging for meal delivery.
LISTEN BUT DON’T FIX
For someone who has recently gone through a loss, understand that “one of the best things you can do as a friend, family member or support person, is to hold space for them. All too often, we offer quick fixes or minimize a person’s feelings because of our own discomfort in watching them grieve, she said. Sometimes the best thing we can do is actually be a witness to their pain, acknowledge it and hold that space with them. Allow your grieving person to tell the story of what happened over and over again. It helps them make sense of the loss.
HELP WITH PLANNING
Offer your assistance with any re-evaluating or organizational tasks. For example, help a loved one who lost a job really focus on finding something new they’re passionate about. You can also offer your services to help them with a resumé, or, if you are in a financial position to do so, gift them sessions with a career coach.
Offer to assist with finding a therapist who can help with dealing with loss. Many therapists are offering free or reduced-cost individual or group support sessions for those impacted by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Compiling a list of these resources for your friend or loved one is an easy task that could make a tremendous impact. There are also free online support groups that people can participate in day and night. This can be a good, productive way your loved one doesn’t isolate themselves. Encourage them to utilize all their support networks and to reach out to online faith and spiritual links. Your help can make a huge difference in someone’s life during this difficult time.