Grief and loss
Life is no longer the same for anyone. We have experienced a collective trauma. Never before would any of us expect to be in the situation that we currently are. Everyone is experiencing grief and loss, some greater than others.
Sense of safety
Most of us have lost a relative sense of safety in the world. We aren’t sure how safe it is to go out. Many of us are concerned about doing simple activities such as going to the grocery store. None of us imagined that we would need to worry about passing someone in the grocery aisle, or to be sure we didn’t get within 6 feet of someone. Who ever would have thought that we might wear a mask and gloves in public? We wouldn’t consider wiping down the outside of the containers from the grocery store. However, this is the place in which we find ourselves.
It seems we question just about everywhere we go. We ponder our needs vs. wants and just do what is necessary. Many things we take for granted are no longer safe, such as going out for a meal or going to the shopping mall. Realistically we can’t even do these things at this point in time.
Sense of trust
Our sense of trust has been shaken. As citizens we hear so many different reports from different sources, we are no longer sure of what is fact and what is fiction. We also know that the government and people in charge have never been through anything like this in their lifetime. People may question if they really know what to do, or which sources they get their information from.
Grief and loss of jobs and life experiences
Many people are dealing with the loss of their job. Again my guess is they never thought they would be laid off or fired for a situation such as this. You may be worrying how you will pay your rent or buy food for your family. If you have your own business, it may not survive this crisis. Others may have lost internships or other valuable life experiences.
All the schools have gone online. This may not be the best way that you learn. Students and teachers have to readjust. Many teachers love being with their students and feel a sense of loss. Parents are struggling, as they have to help with the online learning. They may not have access to the Internet, or work outside the home and don’t have time to help with school.
Loss of loved one
Someone you love may have passed away during this time and you may not be able to attend the funeral. It is very difficult if you can’t be with your family during these times. The rituals surrounding death can’t be carried out the same way. Most people have a support system to get them through this time. Having people in your home can be comforting. This can’t happen. People have had funerals live streamed. Most people would not have thought to do something like that.
Lack of celebration
We can’t celebrate holidays and birthdays as we have in the past. Graduations, proms, weddings and other major life events are cancelled. I can’t even imagine the sense of grief and loss you may be feeling.
On the flip side, we can celebrate with FaceTime, Zoom, House Party or some other app that lets many people on at the same time. It’s not quite the same, but it does help to connect with friends and family.
Sense of control
Many people feel they no longer have control over their world. We aren’t free to do what we want when we want to. People may feel a loss of basic freedom. Some people are cooking and cleaning more than normal as a way to gain control over their environment. Tempers may flare more easily.
Grief is not easy for anyone. George Bonanno PhD who is the head of the Loss, Trauma and Emotion Lab at Teachers College, at Columbia University says that we know the world isn’t the same as it used to be and we need to adapt. It is OK to grieve what we have lost. His research shows that most people are resilient and will bounce back after this crisis has passed.
Obviously we are in a difficult period now as we don’t know when we will be able to do the things we normally do and how those might be forever changed. Once the crisis has passed we can begin to heal, grieve our losses and even try to make meaning of what has happened to all of us.
It can help to journal and write about your losses or grief. Just naming it can help you work through it. You may want to write about other times you experienced grief or loss and how you moved forward. You are stronger than you think you are.
Take control over what you have control over and let the rest go. You may want to look at some of my earlier blogs on how to cope with grief and loss during this difficult time.