Are you feeling a bit off your game? A little melancholy for no specific reason? Maybe even bereft without exactly knowing why?
The reason why is, you’re human. And you may be experiencing a sense of loss about the life you were used to living. Loss of spending time with friends and people you love. Loss of a job and the income and medical insurance that goes with it. Loss of routine and a feeling that you could predict what was coming. Loss of certainty about your future.
You’re a human being, and grief is a normal response to loss. The classic stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. When you are going through these stages of grief, it helps to recognize them.
Everyone spends varying amounts of time in each stage. If you are mindful of what you’re feeling, you’ll know when you’re stuck in denial. And you’ll know it’s not doing you any good. If you’re spending too much time being angry, you’ll do more damage than necessary. The key is to identify the stage you’re in and move on when you’re ready.
If you’re in one of the stages of grief, what can you do?
- Give it a name. Sometimes the mere act of identifying what you are feeling makes your feeling a concrete thing—no longer some amorphous unknown. It’s always scarier to deal with the unknown than the known.
- Respect yourself. Take as much time as you need to acknowledge what you’re feeling and respect that feeling. Let yourself feel the emotion as long as you need to. Understand your limits and appreciate the fact that everyone has limits, including you. Give yourself permission to feel as you do.
- Try to be present. Once you name your emotion, try to ground yourself in the present. Practice breathing exercises and try to connect to your inner self. Be open to what you’re feeling. Expand upon what you’re going through. Do you feel sad, do you feel a physical heaviness, do you feel like you’re sinking? Try to break down the grief you feel into smaller, more manageable, pieces.
- Face your fear. It’s important to maintain your grip on reality. When you’re in denial, it may be a defense mechanism to protect you against the unhappy feeling of fear. And of course, you are afraid—you’d be crazy not to be concerned amidst a global pandemic. Denial gives you a false sense of security that could be detrimental to you and others in the long run. Know that when you face up to your fear, you will be less likely to put yourself and others in danger.
- Project into the future. At some point, this pandemic will be over. When you look back on your behavior, will you be proud of yourself? When you stay calm and safe, you will have behaved in a way you can feel good about. When you lookout for the safety of yourself and others, you get strength from doing the right thing. And we will all need strength to get through this grief.
If you find you’re still feeling overwhelmed, seek help from a qualified therapist who can work with you online while keeping you safe. We will all need to be supportive of each other because we are all grieving a loss. Together, we will move onward.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact