Grieving During the Pandemic
Blog post written by,
Dr. Bhritanie Jardine, Psy.D.
It has been 8 months since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the US. Yes, you read that correctly, 8 months! Think about how much has changed for you and your loved ones since the start of this pandemic. Notice how you feel as you ask yourself this question. You might notice feeling slightly anxious, or even some sadness. But what is often harder for people to identify is feelings of grief. Grief is highly complex and feels slightly different for everyone making it more challenging to identify. Some may feel sad, angry, numb, or even physically ill.
It is commonly thought grief is something you feel only after the death of a loved one, however grief is experienced after any number of different kinds of loss. And boy, has there been a lot of loss since the beginning of this pandemic. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions have lost jobs and financial security, missed important life events like graduations and birthdays, and lost friendships or romantic partners as a direct result of the impact of the pandemic. It’s also important to note that for one of only a few times in history, most of the world is experiencing a collective loss of normalcy and safety. With all that being said, here are a few steps you can take to help:
1. Talk about it. Our minds have a way of convincing us we are the only ones who struggle with strong emotions or unpleasant thoughts, but I promise you are not the only one! Simply sharing your experience with someone else and hearing they have felt similarly can be enough to temporarily reduce your distress.
2. Label it. Human beings like to be able to make sense of things. There is lots of research showing increased attention and discomfort with unfamiliar phenomenon, and unfamiliar psychological experiences are no different. Learning that you are in fact experiencing grief, and therefore all of those “unexplained” symptoms are perfectly normal, can bring an immense amount of relief and hope!
3. Find meaning. Regardless of your religious or spiritual views, people tend to find acceptance of unwanted changes when they are able to create meaning from that change. Whether that’s taking advantage of an opportunity that opened up as a result, feeling grateful for the increased closeness with a friend due to seeking support, or even highlighting the increased strength or personal growth that came from surviving that pain, just to name a few.
Millions of people are struggling with their mental health since the start of quarantine and are looking for relief. It can be easy to get stuck in our own head telling us no one else feels this way, and that the way we feel is wrong. So I want to leave you with some encouragement to give yourself a break and connect with others to see you are not alone, better understand what you are experiencing, and move towards finding meaning in that experience!
BHRITANIE JARDINE, PSYD
Eating Disorders, Grief and Loss and Trauma Expert
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