It goes without saying that the past few weeks of social distancing and sheltering in place have been hard on everyone. As much as we try to maintain routine, stay positive, and tell ourselves “this too shall pass,” many are starting to feel the weight of having our worlds rocked so suddenly.
You might be noticing that you feel like one day melts into another; it’s difficult to keep track of what day it is or how many have passed.
You might be starting to feel unmotivated, overwhelmed, anxious, or perhaps even depressed.
But let me tell you something:
It’s okay. You’ve suffered a loss.
We often associate grief with the loss of a loved one. When confronted with the realization that we no longer have someone in our lives, it is natural to feel a deep sense of sadness, but grief doesn’t have to be limited to losing someone.
Grief is simply suffering over a loss, and most of us have lost a great deal in the last couple of weeks.
- We have lost our ability to go out wherever and whenever we please.
- We have lost our usual routines.
- We have lost our ability to visit in person with friends and family.
- We have lost jobs.
- We have lost a sense of security, whether it’s financial, housing, or food.
In many ways, we have lost normalcy and control–the two things in which we have the closest and most coveted relationships with. In fact, one could argue that there are no two things that we depend on more.
So how does one grieve the loss of something intangible like their way of life?
Acknowledge what you’ve lost and accept your feelings without judgement. We are all attached to different things. We all have different lifestyles and priorities, so it is only natural for us to experience variance in which losses are the most impactful. Some of us might be deeply affected by the loss of a job while for others, it’s the loss of the ability to go out and get drinks with friends. There is no prerequisite for grief. It is an entirely individual experience. No matter what you are grieving, however large or small, internalize the fact that your feelings and grief are justified.
Lean in and reach out. Despite the fact that we cannot physically gather together, now more than ever we need to support one another. The reality that this situation touches everyone across the country and even the world, provides a sense of comfort in knowing that you are not alone. It’s beneficial to talk openly and share your worries and feelings with others right now. The sharing of your grief with others is not placing an undue burden on their shoulders; it is an opportunity to create a bridge between two individuals with a shared experience. You never know how much your openness will help not only you, but someone else.
Focus on the possibilities. There is a reason that Hope is the thing with wings. Hope is what carries us out of the darkest depths of despair. In order to have Hope, you must focus on reframing your perspective to see what is possible. What good can come from this? Perhaps you merely find breadcrumbs of positivity in the beginning, but they provide just enough sustenance to keep moving forward.
Find comfort in the things that heal you. When someone suffers the loss of a loved one, it’s common for people to send flowers or bring meals. This is because they are elements of comfort–being surrounded by beauty and having nourishment during times of sadness are incredibly healing. What can you do or access at this moment that brings you comfort? Perhaps it is reading a poem, going for a walk, having a conversation with a dear friend, watching home movies or looking through old photos and reliving happier times. Seek out positive things that make you feel good, and make them a priority.
Have grace towards yourself. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no consistent timeline. Accept the fact that grieving is a process that must unfold naturally and without provocation. Don’t put extra pressure on or force yourself to get to the other side because it will only be a matter of time before you realize you have fooled yourself into believing your grief has passed. Instead, be gentle and patient with your mind and your body. Know that your grief will surely pass–it’s just a matter of time.
In a situation where so little is for sure, one thing is certain:
We are all grieving, but we will get through this together.