Navigating Grief During Difficult Times
Everyone grieves differently. With the world right now being shaped around COVID-19, any type of loss poses different challenges and obstacles than a “traditional” journey of grief. Rituals, gatherings, good-byes, and other ways we typically have found closure haven’t been options these past few months.
We have a language in our culture that helps us create meaning around “traditional” loss. Because any loss during this time isn’t “traditional,” there isn’t a card at the store which will adequately put words to your experience.
Moving Through, Not Around
Grief already has a tendency to create strong feelings like isolation and guilt. With obstacles and barriers like never before, these emotions can feel even more powerful now. So what are some ways to navigate through loss during these difficult times?
Non-Traditional & Online
As you explore different options, ask yourself: “What do you need? What are you comfortable with?” It can be helpful to identify these new options. Memorial services and funerals have online choices (Sunset offers free webcasting as well as an option for visitors to drive by in cars for viewing with social distancing in place).
Pursue Connection, Community, and Healthy Distractions
Because of COVID-19, our world is redefining how we connect and how we engage with our community. If you are connected with a faith group, ask if they have ways for you to plug in online. Plan a “Zoom hang out” with a friend or with your family members. Plan coffee dates through Facetime or celebrate a birthday with a Facebook live event. Use your hobbies and interests to search for and join an online community, event, or gathering. Sometimes in your grief, it feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air to have a healthy distraction. Sometimes you won’t feel like engaging. And that’s okay too. In the dance of grief, it’s okay to disengage. There will be other moments to re-engage. Something that feels strange and unmanageable one day could bring joy and peace the next.
Connect with Others Who are Grieving
When you are ready to connect more with the emotions around your grief and share in the experiences of others who are also grieving, some of my favorite recommendations are What’s Your Grief? and Modern Loss. Grief support groups like Grief Share can be a great way to feel welcomed into an environment with others sharing similar experiences.
Grief moves us through a great deal of pain. But it also guides us to honor, remember, create legacies, deepen our spirituality and faith, and re-author our changing stories with new meaning.
About the Author: Brad Unruh is a Marriage and Family Therapist who has his own private practice focusing specifically on couples counseling and coming alongside those who are grieving. To find out more about Brad, the services he provides, and events he is having, follow his practice on Facebook, go to his Psychology Today profile, or reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.