During this COVID-19 pandemic, you are blessed if you have a healthy family, a stable job, and a strong sense of security in what has become a global recession. With over two million infected and around 130,000 deaths recorded around the world as of 16 April, many are grieving the sudden loss of loved ones.
But grief is not only valid if someone dies. How do we cope with other, more intangible losses during the pandemic?
How to Cope With Grief During a Pandemic
1. Cancelled Weddings
Know a friend whose wedding has been cancelled or postponed indefinitely?
Imagine the hard work, sacrifice, and emotional investment that the couple had poured out. The much-awaited “I do!” has been abruptly changed to “I will wait for you.”
If that is you, feel empowered to acknowledge your grief and disappointment.
Psychologist Sonya Lott said, “The grief that people have difficulty naming is the sense of loss that we have for all that we thought we were secure in-like the loss of the illusion that we’re in control of everything.”
The pandemic may have sidetracked your plans, but be present to your loss as you go through it. Instead of avoiding or ignoring your feelings, own them.
2. Missed Milestones
Was your family planning for your grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary or a milestone birthday? Did you have to cancel baby showers or a family reunion? Will your siblings have to miss their graduation?
With lockdowns and border restrictions, we will miss celebrating these major life events together with our nearest and dearest.
There is grief in blowing a birthday cake alone. Imagine celebrating your 90th birthday with your grandkids on a video call. It’s just not the same.
If this is you, embrace that sadness. It is important to accept the void it created in your heart while at the same time hold as much joy as you can.
3. Being Deprived of Physical Touch
With safe distancing measures in place, people whose love language is either physical touch or quality time are feeling the strain.
Hugs promote oxytocin – a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone”. This feel-good hormone relaxes us and lowers our anxiety.
But with a limited supply of hugs during a pandemic, you can’t have the minimum of eight hugs a day for at least 20 seconds.
If you’re living in solitude, it may be depressing.
Connect with people who matter most to you as much as you can and give your undivided attention– this may be one of the best gifts you could give and have, in lieu of an embrace.
Grieving these losses is part of taking care of ourselves. You are not expected to do something extraordinary in the middle of a pandemic just to be happier or feel better.
The most important thing is that you find meaningful moments and take care of your mental health amidst the loss.
Keep your family safe during this period by boosting your body’s natural defences.