Social distancing by definition means a lot of loss and with a loss we have grief. When we stay away from the life we’ve made, we can lose out on a lot of what we value in our lives. We may lose out on relationships, income, childcare, adventures, social support, opportunities to expand our lives or goals, the list goes on and on. Think of all the things that got canceled recently.
In this pandemic we also don’t know what will happen, so we are losing out on our sense of stability and control. For many of us, we have lost some very important parts of our life and even our identity.
How to do loss and grief the best we can
First, be kind. Be gentle. Our minds tend to go on the fritz and either stop thinking or overthink when we are sad or overwhelmed. Notice if you have some thinking you could let go of, even if it’s only for a few minutes. WE need rest from the chronic vigilance for our physical and mental health.
Can you notice what your thoughts are saying? Wherever possible choose helpful thoughts. Intentionally taking time to slow down can be so kind to ourselves. It is easier to think helpful thoughts and make helpful choices when our minds are slowed down. Try breathing meditations, slow walks, art, play, and music. All of these can be superpowers for health.
You should be upset, at least some. Nothing is going wrong by you feeling upset. It’s a hard situation and you’re having hard feelings. It makes sense. It is not comfortable to be upset and most of us don’t like it, but it’s still a healthy, right thing. Give yourself the gift of feeling. You may not only be sad. Grief can incite anger, joy, sadness, fear or whatever it is that you’re feeling.
Don’t go at it alone
You can reach out to one person, or everyone you know on social media. Reach out to your therapist or your parents, reach out to whoever, but reach out. Nearly everything is harder when we keep it in our heads. Decide who you can share with and do that.
Do something different
Can you remember something you used to like to do? Maybe paint, write poems or do push-ups. When the old way of doing things falls apart and we have made room for our feelings and found support the next step is creating what will be the next way of being. If you have lost the old life, then there is or will be, space to make something new. What would you like to make in your empty space?
This cycle repeats over and over through loss and is how we stay with ourselves and have some threads of hope to grasp as we find our way When we lose our way, we have made connections with people who will remind us of who we are so we can get back to our way.
If you are reading this with a more concrete loss to the pandemic, a loss of a loved one or your health, please know many of the steps are the same,but that is a much more profound kind of loss. When you are ready, I hope you will find your way to an amazing therapist. Until then. Do the steps above and if you feel too hopeless keep yourself safe by going to an emergency room, calling 911 or 1-800-273-8255.
Gen became a counselor after years of working in the medical profession. While on the path to becoming a nurse practitioner, she realized that the aspect of medicine she most appreciated was supporting patients when they faced significant changes and challenges in their lives.