Grieving The Lives We Had Before COVID-19
Grief is not limited to the death of someone we loved or cared for. Grief can show up in our lives for other things lost like a job, financial security, and an overall way of life.
Giving ourselves permission to label the life we had pre-Coronavirus means we then allow ourselves to grieve; to properly mourn the comfort, security, or routine of a life once lived.
While some losses due to the pandemic are seemingly small, many around the world are suffering from huge, life-altering changes that nobody could have planned for. These “living losses” may cause us to question who we are or were, and how we relate to our friends, family, and work.
Grieving allows us to move into a space of acceptance and a willingness to adapt to these unprecedented, ever-changing conditions. We can then start to make room for these feelings of loss a—and hopefully come to a place of being able to share these thoughts and feelings with others.
How to Cope With ‘Living Losses’
Acknowledge The Grief
Begin by calling it what it is; you are grieving. But perhaps even more important is allowing it to be okay and to understand that it’s a totally expected and normal reaction to something so wildly different and uncharted, on a global scale. This may also mean letting go of any denial you might have around the fact that you do indeed miss your pre-pandemic life. And that’s okay.
Honor The Losses
Be curious, seek understanding, get to know what it is you truly miss and why. Honor and validate what you’re missing. It’s okay to hold these memories close and be grateful for what you had. Then, dig in further: How do these specific losses make you feel? Frustrated, hurt, scared, sad, angry? Naming and validating your losses can serve to provide some form of relief and healing.
Create New Rituals
Rituals or habitual practices are often used to help those grieving the loss of a loved one. Things like journaling about your new daily experiences, creating a ‘memory box’ of things you loved about your previous life, keeping a gratitude jar, playing music that brings you joy in remembering life as it was before, or looking for new ways to give back to your community as others respond to their ‘living losses’ as well.
All of these things can be translated into pre-pandemic rituals with an aim to help you accept, honor, heal, and keep pushing forward even though things may still feel uncertain.
Develop New Expectations
Yes, things are weird and yes life will be different from now on, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep living meaningful, rewarding lives. Now’s the time to adjust your mindset and reimagine new, realistic expectations of what your life could look like today and in the future.
Try writing this down, “Things might be very different now but I can always find new ways to [fill in the blank].” This is a great way of giving power back to yourself. Which is incredibly important because in times of loss and grief it’s often a feeling of powerlessness or lack of control that can greatly contribute to the anxiety, sadness, anger, etc. that may accompany your grief.
While working on your new expectations you may also find great joy in thinking up new hobbies, nurturing new interests, and finding new ways to connect with others.
Mind Existential Worries
It should be no surprise that some may find themselves in moments of existential crisis during this time. If you think you’re experiencing this type of worry it’s important to put into place a system or a habit that can help pull you out of it. Creating a reassuring phrase or affirmation can be great for bringing back meaning, purpose, and reconnection.
Try something like this (though I encourage you to create your own, one that speaks to you personally)- “I know it’s hard to understand how to navigate the uncertainty that the pandemic has brought forth. I promise that it won’t last forever. I will actively look for new ways to find meaning and purpose in my world.”
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Photo credit: Pixabay, Fran_Mother_Of_Dogs