For over a month now we have been facing new realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our daily lives have been impacted and there has been much to adjust to: social distancing; canceling of school events, move to online schooling, the closing of gyms, theatres, churches and synagogues; and difficulty accessing supplies of food and other goods. All this change is hard for everyone. But if you are grieving the recent death of a loved one, you may struggle even more.
Why Do Our Current Circumstances Make Grief Feel That Much Worse?
For many, isolation can intensify grief. Just at a time when you need to be with loved ones, you are being told to keep your distance. On the other hand, you may need time alone to grieve. But if you are quarantined with others, alone time may be hard to come by.
Your ability to cope has been stretched by not only grief, but also new restrictions placed on our communities. All this change may leave you wondering how much more you can handle. You may feel you have reached your breaking point with each new life stressor. Facing not only your grief but the pandemic without your “rock” may feel unbearable. Now more than ever, those who are grieving may ache and long for the presence of their loved ones.
Ways to Manage Grief During the COVID-19 Crisis
Your grief may feel overwhelming right now. However, there are things you can do for yourself and your family to help you manage the symptoms of grief and bring comfort. Eventually, the world will go back to normal, and how we take care of ourselves now will impact that future.
Here are some ideas for coping:
Find time to get outside and be grounded by nature. Go barefoot on the grass, weed the gardens, take walks and be present as you take in all the blooming trees and flowers.
Exercise is important. This can be as simple as a walk through your neighborhood or through any parks and trails that remain open. Many gyms are offering online videos, and YouTube can be an excellent place to find yoga sessions.
Limit social media and news consumption. Take this time to examine your boundaries around the amount of information you can take in daily, either from the news or social media. Too much time hearing the latest updates can tax already overloaded coping systems. Turn the TV off at bedtime and instead access one of the many calming apps that are available, such as Calm.com, Headspace.com or Breatheapp.com. These apps can help settle your mind, reduce stress and, for many, enhance sleep.
Find online grief support groups and videos. David Kessler, a leader in the field of grief and loss, offers a free online support group that meets daily on his Facebook page. He also has a website, www.grief.com. “What’s Your Grief” is a local online support resource for grievers by Baltimore-based mental health professionals with 20+ years of experience in grief and bereavement. The mission of “What’s Your Grief” is to promote grief education, exploration, and expression in both practical and creative ways.
Dive into some books. Here are a few suggestions: Taming the Anxious Mind by Heidi Schreiber-Pan, Finding Meaning by David Kessler and Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman.
Reach out to Gilchrist Grief Services. Although our face-to-face interactions are temporarily suspended, we are still here for the bereaved community. Our virtual and phone support is growing daily. If you want to talk to a Gilchrist clinical counselor, please call 888.823.8880 to schedule an appointment.
To learn more about Grief Counseling at Gilchrist, visit gilchristcares.org/grief.