Endured through the Covid-19 Pandemic
When someone says they are grieving, we often assume this to refer to the loss of a person. However grief refers to any loss. So when considering what it is that we are all experiencing right now, and why it is so different for everybody, I would suggest that it may be because we are experiencing grief. Grief on a global level that we never imagined possible.
Let's just take a moment to recognise the impact this virus has had and the grief it has caused so many. As I write this blog, currently over 1 million people have been diagnosed with Covid-19, and more than 51, 000 deaths, that we know of. It is hard to imagine the grief that their families are experiencing right now. Let's think about our NHS and front line workers that are dealing with grieving families everyday, who cannot see their loved ones one last time. It is almost impossible to imagine the heart break of any family having to come to terms with the loss of any loved one right now, arranging funerals that are not as they imagined. Rites of passage as we know it, have been completely taken away. There are thousands of brides and grooms that have lost their dream wedding. Take a moment to think of the expectant Mum's who have lost their original birthing plan, or how they thought their experience of pregnancy would be, having to isolate for weeks and select only one birthing partner. Acknowledge those on parental leave, enjoying time with their children, but longing for interaction with other parents. This wasn't what they visioned this time to be. Recognise the loss of freedom for all, but particularly for those in isolation for twelve weeks due to being placed in a 'vulnerable' category. Let's take a moment to think of those that have not been able to work for two weeks already, and have lost all income right now. To recognise that our children have lost their routine, but shown great strength by adapting to this new normality. To recognise the resilience of our youth that were due to sit exams, and had that taken away from them. They were not ready to leave! They did not get to celebrate in the ways they had seen every year before them do. Their teachers were not ready to see them go, they are grieving their life that is usually lived around a timetable. Let's spare a thought for those children attending school due to their amazing parents being front-line workers, who are having to adapt to their classmates not being there with them. Recognise the hardship for blended families and key workers, sacrificing time with their children. Recognise that some are still coming to terms with not knowing for how much longer the only communication they will have with their children is by video-call or telephone. For the grandparents that are missing their hugs from their grandchildren. Let's remember the self employed and business owners, who have had to close their businesses and don't know if their company will survive. When we reflect on this, we can acknowledge the scale of grief we are experiencing. There is no clear end date for this, so the roller-coaster of emotions is understandable and comparable to nothing we have ever witnessed before.
The Stages of Grief
There are several different versions of the stages of grief, also known as the grief cycle. However, for the purpose of this blog I will stick to the five stages of grief which are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When we are referring to the stages of grief, we are not just referring to bereavement but this includes any loss, such as freedom, work, relationships, friendships. We are currently experiencing grief on a global scale, a complete loss of 'normality', as a result of Covid-19, also referred to as the Coronavirus. This has caused grief that we could never have imagined, we could never have prepared for. The virus appeared so quickly, impacting on everyone's normality.
Denial refers to not accepting the loss has happened. For example, an individual stating something such as “this can’t be happening to me”, when they have lost their job, financial stability, home, relationships or loved ones.
Anger refers to feelings of frustration and even blame. This may be anger towards themselves or others. As evident on many social media platforms, there is a lot of anger around Covid-19 and what it has taken from people. Notably people are angry at losing their normality.
Bargaining refers to seeking to negotiate that this is not happening. For example, someone grieving the loss of a partner that has abruptly ended their relationship, may say that they will change in some way if the partner returns to them. Or in the case of death, they may bargain with a God or deity to bring that person back. In relation to the coronavirus, we may have seen lots of people trying to adapt their businesses in the early stages of the announcement of lockdown, as a way of negotiating and navigating how they are managing this.
Depression refers to the individual feeling overwhelmed, perhaps even not seeing the point of continuing their own life. People may experience an increase in negative thoughts at this time, but it is important to remember that having negative thoughts makes you human, and does not make you a negative person. Depression is very different to anxiety or negative thoughts. If you are experiencing persistent negative thoughts about yourself or others and finding daily tasks are a struggle, it is important to seek help. There are still many services available online.
Acceptance refers to the individual accepting the loss and the end of the grief cycle. For example, they may realise that life can continue, whilst recognising what they have lost.
Usually when working with clients that are stuck in the grief cycle, I always remind them that it may take up to 18-24 months to psychologically go through the grief cycle, although some go through the process much quicker. It is also important to recognise that individuals can get stuck at any stage of the grief cycle, and struggle to move beyond a stage. Therefore at this moment in time, it is essential to be kind to ourselves and others as everyone is coming to terms with a loss of their 'normality', and yearning for life to return to what it was before. Grief is unique to everyone, so no comparisons can be made.
Top Tops For Managing Grief
Acknowledge your pain
It's important to recognise the pain you are feeling.
Accept your feelings
Grief causes a range of thoughts, emotions and feelings. Accept how you are feeling, even journal them. You may experience a range of emotions and feelings in one go. Grief can make us feel like we are on an emotional roller-coaster.
Understand that your grief is unique and your feelings are valid
Everyone experiences grief differently. The way you cope as an individual can be based on many factors-socialisation, sociological, psychological and economic factors. Do not compare yourself to others. We will all have different circumstances and therefore manage our feelings towards this in different ways.
Visualise happier times
Look through old photos, that make you happy or visualise a happier time. This can be fictional or real. Think to the future and write down three things you want to do once you have the freedom to do so.
Allow time for self care
This refers to self-care in all forms: mentally, physically and spiritually allow yourself time to invest in yourself. Allocating a time everyday to enjoy something for you. Whether this is meditation, mindfulness, music, reading or a bath. Allow yourself time to look after you.
Together we shall get through this, with love, hope and support. Take care and be safe. If you need to reach out for support then please do.
This is written with an intention to help explain the grief cycle and support people during these times. I am by no means saying this is what everyone is experiencing or must do to overcome their feelings. I recognise everyone's circumstances, feelings and emotions are unique . I continue to offer online clinical hypnotherapy, education and coaching for individuals during this time.