The last few weeks in the United States have been an unprecedented whirlwind with the spread of coronavirus, and essentially everyone is feeling it. Confusion, panic, and fear are circulating throughout the country right now, and unfortunately, it looks like this process is only beginning. You may not have even had time to process your thoughts and feelings about the current situation yet because things are moving so fast.
With so much change happening at such a fast rate, it’s natural to feel a whole range of feelings, including grief. While most folks are familiar with the grief associated with loss or death, there are many kinds of grief out there – you can grieve after a divorce, career change, loss of a pet, or even after a move, and that’s not a complete list.
Remember, the definition of grief is not only the reaction to loss, but it can also encompass “the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”
Here are some symptoms of grief that you might be feeling right now:
- Feelings of unreality
- Physical distress (chest pains, abdominal pains, headaches, nausea, etc)
- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping problems
With changes coming constantly in response to the spread of the coronavirus, it’s completely natural to feel grief. So far, many people have become ill and lost their lives, people are being laid off from their jobs or being forced to close their businesses, people are missing the births of their grandchildren, weddings are being canceled or postponed, and there are so many other changes to day to day life that they’re impossible to list.
Since this is only the beginning of our experience with this virus, there may be more changes ahead that we’ll have to cope with. With that in mind, here are some tips for how to manage your feelings of grief during this time:
Find a space to release your feelings
This could be with someone (like a partner, a best friend, a therapist), or it could be a solo activity. If you’re doing this on your own, pull out a journal and write down how you’re feeling. Don’t worry about writing anything fancy or profound, just write what comes. If writing with pen and paper isn’t your thing, try an app or an online journal, or even a video journal. We’re all on an emotional rollercoaster right now, and keeping your feelings of grief inside will just end up making you feel worse.
Set up virtual hangouts during coronavirus social distancing
One of the strangest things about the spread of the coronavirus is that we’ve become isolated. While social distancing is hugely important in limiting the spread of the virus, we’re lucky to live in a time where we don’t need to be physically together to spend time with people we care about. Set up a regular video chat with your friends or your family instead of the in-person hangouts we’re missing right now. There are video platforms that allow large groups of people to chat at the same time, so you can still feel some semblance of your old social life.
Commit to a self-care routine
We need self-care now more than ever. Being cooped up inside can be exhausting, and it’s important to tend to your needs in any way you can at this point. Try to make moving your body a regular practice, step outside at least once a day for fresh air (but maintain that social distance!), eat food that both comforts you and nourishes you, stay hydrated, stretch – the limits are endless. Do whatever you can to stay safe and take care of yourself.
Consider online counseling
One big interruption that folks are feeling is limited access to their support system, including therapists. Even if it’s not advisable to attend your session in person where you are, most therapy offices offer some sort of online counseling or telehealth. If you’re able to, making time each week to directly address your mental health, even in quarantine, it can be a valuable practice.
If you’re still struggling with feelings of grief over the Coronavirus pandemic, you’re not alone. Our counselors can help you process your current situation and find ways to cope that work for you.