Many Americans are struggling with economic anxiety, medical problems not being addressed, kids missing school, an uptick in drug addiction, and fear, just to name a few. One of the worst results of the pandemic is that hundreds of thousands of Americans and more around the world are coping with grief and loss right now. Losing a loved one at any time is stressful and requires fortitude, but processing grief and loss of a loved one during the pandemic takes a new kind of resilience and endurance.
Grieving In Isolation
As a culture we take solace in our funeral rituals to help us get through the grieving process and loss. We remember the dead and connect with others, but in social isolation this becomes an impossible task.
In many cases our loved one was totally alone with no relatives or friends able to visit and comfort them at the end. There was no opportunity to hold their hand and say goodbye, leading many to take on feelings of guilt.
Now those that are left must grieve alone as well. Like the virus, this is a new and unfamiliar situation which makes the process more difficult.
Take Back Some Control
So how do you deal with this new reality?
You can take back a bit of control by making decisions. Choose a delayed memorial or celebration of life for your loved one to be held at a future date, and contact all friends and relatives. You can even make plans to stream any services. Write the obituary, video chat with friends and loved ones, and share your grief to help ease the pain.
Coping With The Trauma
Don’t avoid the situation or your loss. Avoidance can give you some short term relief, but it makes it impossible to process your grief. Some may substitute excessive drinking, substance abuse, or anger in order to avoid the grief that must be felt and worked through, which is something you should absolutely avoid for your overall health.
Acknowledge The Circumstances And Look For Positives
Finding any positives in this situation may be difficult if not impossible. Being able to lean on others and say goodbye as you would prefer may seem foreign.
Most importantly, acknowledge the loss and the circumstances. Make a point to organize your feelings and rationalize the situation. Try to get above the emotional, and work your way towards acceptance.
Above all, it is important to do the work of grieving now – even if it will be months until a formal memorial can occur. Denying yourself that process can only do harm.
Find The Support You Need
If you are having feelings of all consuming sadness, numbness or anger, reach out to a professional for help. You are not alone.