Coping With Loss During COVID
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Loss happens to everyone. It is an inevitable thing we expect to encounter ever so often as we journey through life. I remember when I was 10 years old I had a black kitten. He was so adorable with snow-white paws and a snow-white patch in the middle of his face. I enjoyed watching that kitten grow. I fed it. I played with it. I watched over it. But then one day my kitten went out into the backyard to play. Unfortunately, he never returned. I was hurt. The sudden loss of my kitten, a part of my daily routine, a highlight of my day, was no longer there and would no longer be. As a curious 10-year-old, of course, other things would soon occupy my time and attention. It hurt at that moment but the hurt would not last forever. Thinking back on that time, I wonder how that summer would have differed had I experienced more than the loss of my kitten. Recently, "loss" has metamorphized. It’s gone from a transient event to a recurring, reverberating experience for all of us.
COVID-19 is something a lot less trivial than a run-a-way kitty. COVID-19 has come in hard, taking with it many of our daily staples, routines, and even loved ones. What’s more, is that COVID has created an experience of either singular or layered loss for many. Jobs have ended, vacations and birthdays canceled, and the most devastating of all, people are losing their lives. Whether you’ve been impacted directly or indirectly, it is important to know how to cope with this shift in life as we know it.
Humans have a natural response to everything we face in life. It is how we learn to adapt and survive. Our natural response to loss is grief. Concerning grief, I want to walk you through what to expect and how to cope.
Grief looks different for every individual. You can experience a variety of difficult emotions or none at all. Grief can also cause disruptions in our daily lives outside of the disruptions caused by COVID-19. You may find yourself sleeping more or less, eating more or less, and avoiding communication with others. The thing about grief is, the more loss you experience, the more intense grief becomes. So what do we do as we experience layers of loss?
The best thing to do is recognize that we will all be affected in some way by this virus. Knowing this, we get ahead of the curve by preparing to deal with loss in a healthy way. Notice that I said healthy. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. As I previously mentioned, grief looks different for every individual because it is influenced by our personality, experiences, and beliefs.
Healthy grief looks like:
Acknowledging our loss - ignoring it will not delay the effects of loss.
Acknowledging our emotions - they will vary, so accept them for what they are.
Not grieving alone - call friends or family to process your experience.
Taking care of ourselves - self-care is a great remedy for pain.
I think it is also very important to be mindful of the “Brightside” during difficult times. Science shows that people who can tap into gratitude are more resilient during difficult times. Something to be grateful for is that you are not experiencing this pandemic or its effects alone! We are all doing this together, and although we are socially distanced, we can remain connected at the heart. Let’s love and support one another! Compassion, care, and empathy heal in ways immeasurable.