The Coronavirus pandemic can engender a number of feelings and emotions. One such feeling that is often ignored or overlooked is grief. Grief is a concept that is most often associated with the loss of a loved one. However, symbolic loss which can encompass the loss of a job, the loss of health, the loss of freedom, the loss of financial stability, the loss of routine or even the loss of dreams for the future can also engender a grief response. In contrast to actual loss, symbolic loss often goes unacknowledged by others and does not receive the same amount of support that those grieving a death would receive. This can contribute to the individual feeling alone and increased feelings of sadness, due to the lack of emotional support that would be accompanied following the loss of a loved one.
During the process of grief it is common for individuals to pass through five stages: (1.) denial, (2.) anger, (3.) bargaining, (4.) depression, and (5.) acceptance. It is not necessary for one to pass through the stages sequentially or to experience all of the stages.
Whatever feelings you may be experiencing, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the existence of these feelings. Those individuals who are experiencing symbolic loss may not realize they need to take some time to grieve and deal with these feelings, because symbolic loss is not always identified as a loss per se.
Coping with the loss of something can be one of the biggest challenges in life. How someone grieves is a personal and individual experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and the most important factor in recovering from any type of loss is time. The healing process takes time for the person to accept their loss, adapt to their new situation and figure out how they will move forward in their life in a productive manner. Some things that a person can do to help facilitate the grieving process are to practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga. Engage in exercise and other activities that naturally release endorphins. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep on a nightly basis. Also, reaching out to people for support and communicating your feelings, through texting, telephone or video calls while we are engaging
in social distancing. Lastly, if your symptoms become too severe and impair your normal everyday functioning, please seek professional help from a mental health professional.
Grief is exhausting. The denial level will leave you questioning but coping and moving forward will help keep your sanity.
Great information. Thanks Dr. Banister.
Healing certainly moves at its own pace. What is a burden one day feels as light as a feather on another day. Thanks for the reminders to prioritize self-care and ask for help during this time. Be well Dr. B.
Thanks for putting into words the feelings I felt yesterday in Home Depot…..felt like I was in a morgue ! The reality is hitting home …..
This is an excellent perspective on the current situation that all of us are facing. Great coping mechanism suggested – a lot of people can benefit from reading this piece. Thanks.
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