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Coronapocalypse: The Grief Edition

Grief. Something you think of when you have experienced a death. But what about when your life comes to a halt, things have drastically changed, you lost your job, or desperately want life to go back to normal? Grief is not just caused by the death of a loved one. 

Grief is a Response to Loss in General. 

Some things to take note of that may be a sign that you’re experiencing grief are the following, note that grief is both emotional, mental, and physical

  • Sadness, hopelessness, anger, and irritability/quick to anger and snappiness, possible rage, feelings of guilt and shame, fear and anxiety, shock, numbness, feeling powerless, apathy, and isolation (which makes it so easy to hide right now) 
  • Lack of concentration, low self-esteem or feelings of worth, feeling responsible for losses, increased nightmares, increased negative thoughts, and  thinking your situation is much different than everyone else’s
  • Fatigue, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lowered immunity and feeling like you are sick often, nausea, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, increased blood pressure, headaches, and stomach pains

Traumatic Grief is Different

Some people are experiencing traumatic grief. Traumatic grief is when one experiences the loss that is sudden, quick, and life-altering. This means you are not just mourning these losses, but traumatized by the loss. People experiencing this may be experiencing flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, some may cease to function normally, triggers (hello news and social media…please stay away from these right now), anger, intense anxiety and fear, intense emotions overall, and significant negative thoughts. Those experiencing traumatic grief have an increased likelihood of struggling with their healing process. EMDR can be really helpful for the healing process of traumatic grief. 

So how are we grieving right now? It looks exactly the same for everyone right? Not exactly.  

The 5 Stages of Grief. 

I am happily here to tell you that these stages are not always in order, you don’t always hit each stage, and you may go back and forth between stages. There is also no timeline for grief. So you might hang out in a stage for some time. I am also here to tell you this is okay. 

So, what are these stages?

  1. Denial
    • This one sounds like “This is not actually happening. None of this is actually happening.” This can be a defense mechanism that helps with the shock of a job loss, of being told that you have to isolate to your home, or of not being able to have support at the hospital when you deliver your baby.
  2. Anger
    • Maybe you’re really angry that you lost your vacation opportunity out of the country, or to mountains to that cottage with your friends (hi, this one’s me), or maybe you’re incredibly angry about your job loss. Be angry. Your feelings are valid, just know you’ll have to manage this eventually.
  3. Bargaining
    • This one is all about GUILT. Believing there was something that you could have done or should have done differently to have changed the results of your current loss or situation.
  4. Depression
    • The onset of the lack of motivation, feeling hopeless, feeling a loss of identity maybe without employment or financial security, or the shock of no longer being able to see your loved ones. Depression over feeling the loss of freedom. Social isolation is highly impactful for people who are now stuck inside and already struggle with anxiety, depression, and substance use. Check on your people.
  5. Acceptance
    • Finally. Acceptance. Feeling okay, or at least willing to be reasonably at peace with the reality of not having control with the current event of the world’s affairs due to this virus that has welcomed itself unpleasantly into all of our lives.

So how do you deal with this? Try some of these helpful ways to cope.

Especially when there doesn’t feel like an end in sight right now. It’s hard to look at starting to put the pieces back together when you’ve just lost your financial security. First, notice that you feel this way. Check in with others. Grief is hard to go through, so here are helpful ways to start coping with it: 

  • See a therapist 
  • Mindfulness activities
  • Eat. Sleep. Rest.
  • Find or engage in your hobbies
  • Acknowledge the pain/emotions, lean into it, notice it
  • Talk to your friends about your feelings and what is going on
  • Get outside if possible 
  • Connect with online support groups
  • Go for a walk or run in your neighborhood (practicing social distancing!)
  • Journal about your experience
  • Take care of yourself with really good self-care, check in with yourself daily
  • Maintain a routine
  • Limit social media/news
  • Read a good book, color, watch a funny movie, etc. 
  • Do Zoom or online group video chats with your friends: you won’t regret this!

If you feel like this article resonated with you, give us a call. My fellow therapists at Lifeologie and I have some great tools to help you get through this and we feel grateful to be those who can do that right now, to provide some calm. We’re all in this together and recovery from this is possible.

About The Author:

Amanda Martin Grand Rapids Ada Counselor

 

Amanda Martin, LMSW

Amanda knows that coming to therapy can be tough. She will put you at ease within minutes. Amanda works with people that have experienced trauma, are struggling with substance use, and with new mommas and poppas being impacted by pregnancy-related concerns! She loves using EMDR, just ask her about it!


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