This year has sent us all for a loop. We have seen nothing like it and losing someone is so difficult during this time. Unfortunately, many of us have lost someone due to Covid-19. And many of us have lost loved ones due to other reasons, but the pandemic has had its influence on that, too.
Grief is tough. It brings a difficult time filled with emotions, and everyone needs to go about it in their own way. However, the pandemic has put some limits on many of the ways we are used to grieving. None the less, you can’t ignore or deny it. When you lose someone, you need to grieve. We want to offer some specific ways to cope with grief during the pandemic in addition to some more general, but just as effective ways.
The thing about grief is that no one can predict its effects, and everyone grieves differently. You may have a slew of emotions that you never anticipated and these can be things like:
· Change of appetite
· Weight loss or gain
· Shakes and tremors
· Feeling too hot or too cold
· Aches and pains
And those are in addition to the emotional symptoms of grief such as:
· Short temper
· Envy of others
A vital key is to be kind to yourself. When you can identify that grief is much more than feeling sad or missing your loved one, you can help yourself. Grief can impact your entire well-being from both a physical and emotional sense. When you can identify it, you can act on it.
The thing about grief is that you can’t ignore it. You do have to recognise it, be kind to yourself, and be responsive to it. Here are some techniques that will help you cope with grief:
· Be kind to yourself.
· Nap when you are fatigued.
· Nourish your body with healthy food and lots of water, but allow yourself that comfort food, too.
· Say no to things you don’t feel up to doing.
· Recognise and acknowledge the grief.
· Try to not make big decisions during this time.
· Don’t expect your grief to go all away at once. You may experience signs of grief for a long time, but hopefully to a lesser degree.
· Stay away from drugs or alcohol which can be more addictive during this time.
· Don’t’ feel guilty about being happy.
Some people have the need to stay busy while grieving. It can help them process the loss, and especially during the time of Covid, you may need to be more creative when it comes to staying busy. Think about some of these ideas:
· Journal – Many people find great release from journaling. Whether you type on your laptop or create a beautiful bullet journal, this is a great way to stay busy, be introspective, and stay in touch with your feelings.
· Sort through photos – This is a lovely way to focus on your loved one and remember some happy times. You can create a scrapbook or a photo album.
· Exercise – No, you don’t need to join a gym or run a marathon, but exercise will make you feel better. Maybe you can find a great yoga program online or start taking daily walks. Again, this is a great time for reflection and calming yourself from within. Some people would rather run or workout harder, that’s okay, too.
· Think about getting a pet – When people have pets, they grieve easier. A pet offers purpose and responsibility, plus a warm loving creature by your side full of unconditional love. However, don’t over commit if you’re not feeling it.
· Return to your hobbies – Don’t feel guilty about returning to normal life. By doing things that bring you joy, you may be able heal faster.
This is where it can get tricky with the Covid-19 pandemic still going on. It’s important to share and express your grief and some people do this better surrounded by loved ones. But how do you do this during a pandemic?
· Think about using a video slideshow maker to create a slideshow of your loved one including great memories of family and friends. You can share this and virtually watch it together. This can help you remember happy times together. Laughing and being happy is okay.
· Have a virtual cocktail hour. Did your loved one have a favourite cocktail? You can have virtual cocktail hour with family and friends to pay a tribute to your loved one and toast with their favourite cocktail.
· Go for a walk together outside. You can be together safely as long as you’re healthy and practice safe distancing and mask wearing. Maybe take a walk with a good friend. If you want to talk about your loved one, do, but sometimes it’s nice to talk about something else.
Grief can be debilitating and though you are trying, you may need some help. It’s normal and fine, and you should reach out for that help. Consider these options:
· Talk to your family doctor.
· Join a virtual support group – This can help you feel connected and less alone.
· Find an online therapist specializing in grief.
· Talk to your minister, rabbi, or other religious leader if you have a strong faith.
· Read books on grief – you will be surprised to find you’re not alone in your feelings, and this can be very helpful, like a support group.
You have the future, and though it’s hard to imagine it without your loved one, you will go on. We can offer these suggestions for you:
· Because it’s hard to have a proper memorial service or funeral during the time of Covid-19, you may want to plan memorial service or remembrance/celebration of life event for when the pandemic is over.
· Think about a trip. Maybe it’s with a group to remember your loved one, or something just with your family or friends to treat yourself.
· If your loved one was very close to you, are you going to need to change your living situation, or perhaps want to? You can begin to think about this, but wait to make any big decisions.
· Is there a way to honour your loved one? Perhaps you’ll want to get involved in volunteer service or pick a hobby you always talked about with them. It’s a beautiful way to honour and value your loved one while doing something for yourself or others. And no rush, you can do it when you’re ready.
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult thing people will experience. The time of Covid only makes it more difficult. Remember:
· Take time for yourself to grieve
· Take time to remember
· Recognise grief
· Pick up a hobby
· Keep yourself busy
· Rest when you need it
· Say no
· Plan a future event
· Recognizs your mental health
· Be kind to yourself
· Reach out for help – it is there.
Though a pandemic is isolating without a doubt, you do not have to be alone in your grief amid Covid-19. Treat your mental health like you would your physical health. There is support and healing waiting for you.