loss and grief

How to deal with loss and grief during the pandemic’s second wave

With millions facing devastation and loss during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to process grief and emotional pain the right way.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted not just the way we live, but also how we care for the dying and bid farewell to our loved ones. A year later, things have only become worse. Millions are experiencing unimaginable loss and grief under circumstances that are hard to even process. Grief is a universal human emotion, and there is no right or wrong way to experience it. All losses experienced during the pandemic are significant and can delay a person’s ability to heal and recover. Sadly, coping with the grief of losing someone during the pandemic is something that everyone is struggling to deal with.

While grief is most commonly associated with the death of a loved one, it comprises much more. Grief can be a result of losing a job, inability to physically connect with friends and family, missing special events and milestones such as graduations, weddings or vacations, and experiencing major changes in daily routines, among others.

Here are a few ways to better understand your grief during this complicated time so that you can cope with the loss without impacting your mental health.

Acknowledge your feelings

Everyone responds to grief differently. Some avoid confronting their emotions altogether, while others give in to hopelessness, anger and resentment. However, not acknowledging your feelings only delays the healing process.

Allow yourself to have feelings about your loss and avoid focusing on what you think you “should” feel. Write down your thoughts in a journal to understand your emotions better. Think about your strengths and coping skills and how they can help you move forward. Consider other tough transitions you’ve experienced in life, such as an illness or a painful breakup. Acknowledging what you’ve lost is an effective way of responding to your grief and embarking on the recovery process.

Connect with people

When the pain of loss is unbearable, people often dissociate themselves from others and withdraw into their shells. But isolation only makes matters worse. Instead, when the weight of your loss and grief is too heavy, share it with the people you love. Reach out to friends and family. Seeing them and hearing their voices can provide a stronger sense of comfort and belonging. Research indicates that social interactions and social support can be highly successful in helping people cope with grief. The key is not to isolate yourself.

Create coping rituals

Recognising your grief is important, especially when coping with the loss of a loved one. Do this by establishing a daily or weekly coping ritual to honour your grieving process. This can be as simple as spending time remembering the person you have lost and reflecting on your memories together. You can light a candle, look through old photos or write about them. Creating a dedicated time for grieving can enable you to release your pain of losing someone and prevent it from building up.

Seek help

Grief can be a lonely process, even when you have your friends and family around. Therefore, sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced a similar loss can help you cope better. You can join a support group for this purpose. If your grief and sadness seem too overpowering, you can get in touch with a mental health professional such as a therapist or grief counsellor to help you work through your feelings and overcome the mental roadblocks to your grieving process.

Stick to a schedule

Ensure you eat and sleep well, and get some exercise. Avoid turning to junk food, caffeine or alcohol. Also, avoid the temptation to spend all day sitting around, which will make you feel more frustrated and fatigued. Try to move around as much as you can within your home. Get up and go to bed at the same time, get dressed and have three meals a day. Following a daily schedule can offer a sense of order and purpose, despite how challenging the times may get.

Focus on the present

Excessive worrying does not make things more predictable or change the outcomes. It will only make you more miserable and emotionally vulnerable. Instead, remind yourself about what is important to you. Try to expand your attention beyond your loss and direct your focus on the things you can control. In this process, mindfulness can help you observe your thoughts and make rational decisions. Mindfulness meditation can help create a sense of inner calm as you open your mind to process your loss and grief.

Take comfort in self-care

Taking steps to nurture your mind, body and spirit is vital during the grieving process. Be generous with yourself and remember that it is okay to slow down, rest and take care of yourself. Set aside some time each day to indulge in an activity that comforts you. Write in a journal, meditate or take a warm bath—do anything that you find soothing. Also, get some sunlight and fresh air to clear your head and calm your mind.

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