Within the past few months, we have had to adapt to a new, virtual way of living which has allowed us to connect safely…but having to say good-bye to our loved ones over phone calls and video chats has been far from a smooth transition.
Losing someone you love is never easy.
Everyone has their own understanding and way of dealing with death. The emotions that come from losing someone you love are complex and unique. These already complicated emotions are made worse by the fact that visitation at hospitals and care facilities are under restrictions for the safety of those involved. Tragically, this means that far too many people have not been able to properly say good-bye to their friends or family members.
The unfulfilled need for closure compounds the grief and creates feelings of guilt, helplessness and anger for those who are trying to come to terms with their loss. Additionally, the isolation from family and friends who are unable to provide comfort, especially in the form of a hug, can be isolating and against our human nature. The lack of distraction from life’s activities can provide more time to think and dwell on the grief, creating an unhealthy imbalance of negative emotions.
After reviewing personal accounts from people who have lost loved ones, as well as opinions from grief counsellors and medical professionals, we are sharing some ways to cope with this unique grieving process.
For some, planning a memorial service to take place post-pandemic can bring about a peace of mind for a variety of reasons including: having a sense of control over something related to the passing, knowing that you, their friends, and family, may be able to get some of the closure that was envisioned, and being able to solely focus on the loss of your loved one without overshadowing of the coronavirus.
Recognize that this is an incredibly challenging time. The grieving process may take longer or feel more intense and this is understandable. Acknowledge your grief and allow yourself to go through the motions. All feelings are valid and ignoring them can cause further mental distress and even physical symptoms. It is not a linear process, or within a certain time constraint, but can manifest itself at unexpected times. It is all part of being human, and remember, when you numb out negative emotions, you may be preventing yourself from experiencing happiness and joy. If practicing self-care is important for your healing process, there is no shame in that. If crying it out is helping you cope, there is no shame in that. We are all unique and this process will be different for everyone. The most important thing to remember is be kind to yourself.
It is so important to reach out to those who support you, such as family and friends. Set dates and times to connect and honour those commitments, even if you may not feel very social. Perhaps as a group, decide on a day and time to perform the same ritual or sentiment in honour of your loved one. Encourage your support group to check up on you to make sure you are coping. Grieving is a process and tends to come in waves.
Finding a balance:
You can spend time both reminiscing, celebrating and remembering your loved one and doing things that take your mind off of your grief. Perhaps you can make a meal that reminds you of your loved one, share a memory of them that impacted you or made you smile, light a candle, make a donation in their honour, or plant something in their memory. Also make time for things that make you happy, like reading a book, playing a game or watching a movie. This will help to give you a break from your emotions.
Reducing your media consumption:
Focusing on negative media can add to feelings of helplessness, trauma and grief. Try to surround yourself with as much positive energy as you can, remembering that everyone experiences grief in their own way and feeling sad, angry and overwhelmed are natural feelings for those experiencing loss.
Remember: There is no one right way to cope with grief and loss under normal circumstances, let alone during a pandemic. Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Disclaimer: The above information may not be effective for everyone and is not a suitable replacement for professional mental health care. If your experience becomes disruptive to your health, please contact a medical doctor/other certified professional (psychotherapist, psychologist, social worker, counselor, therapist) please contact us for assistance with referrals.