We have lost so much since COVID-19 infiltrated our lives.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 589,000 deaths have been reported in the United States alone. Countless families had to mourn their loved ones through a glass, a digital screen or weren’t able to say goodbye at all.
We also had an unprecedented loss of 22.1 million jobs between January and April of 2020. Many had to close down their businesses, losing their livelihood and the financial security they provided.
We lost the ability to hug our friends and family and constantly fear not being able to protect them. And we know we have little control over the situation, other than getting vaccinated and following safety guidelines.
As psychologist Sherry Cormier, Ph.D., puts it, “there is a communal grief as we watch our work, health-care, education and economic systems — all of these systems we depend on — destabilize.”
On a personal level, some of us feel we have been stripped away from our routine, freedom, and pure sense of self.
So how can we carry on when loss paralyzes us and makes us hopeless? What can we do when we are left with utter pain?
First, we grieve.
What Is Grief?
Grief is the human reaction to loss. We all experience it in our own way—some of us may feel sad and scared, while others may become angry or numb. It depends on our stories, circumstances, and the loss itself.
Most people are familiar with grieving the death of a loved one. Yet, we can suffer grief after different situations such as a breakup or divorce, moving to another city, or losing our purpose and the future we associated with it.
This global crisis affects all of us, encompassing multiple losses at the same time. We are all mourning our pre-pandemic lives in some way.
Common signs of grief include:
- Shock or denial
- Moodiness or anger
- Guilt or shame about loss
- Sadness and emptiness
- Withdrawal from others
- Trouble sleeping or eating
- Excess fatigue
- Difficulty taking care of oneself
How to Navigate Grief During COVID-19
Recognize Your Pain
Let yourself feel and notice the thoughts and emotions that arise. Name your losses and find a way to express your pain through journaling, crafting, movement, baking, or talking to others. Perhaps you can cook the favorite recipe of a loved one that passed or create a photo album to honor and remember them.
Adapt Your Routine
Continue to mold your routine to fit your new life. Add structure and balanced habits to your days to regain a sense of stability. Maybe your former job commute turns into a morning walk or your Friday night out shifts to a game night in with the family.
Ask for Help
Sometimes our losses hurt so deeply that we can’t find ways to cope on our own. If grief prevents you from working, studying, caring for yourself and your loved ones, we advise seeking professional guidance.
Therapy can help you manage grief so you can resume your life. A therapist will offer a private space to explore and acknowledge your pain and find a healthy route to channel it.
At Let’s Talk Psychological Wellness, we provide therapy for grief and loss, among other services, to serve the NYC community during this challenging time. We also support individuals across the State of New York through teletherapy.
If you are struggling with grief, we are here for you.
Contact us to learn more.