Since the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives, media sources have directed us to identify and manage “stress” in ourselves and our children. We have been at this new normal for a while now and while stresses remain, we are also realizing there is still a long way to go. And with that realization can come grief.
Grief comes from any kind of loss, and we are beginning to realize what we have missed and what we will miss. Some of what we miss is temporary and will be back eventually, but other experiences cannot be recaptured. And so we may grieve for a brief moment or we may grieve deep in our heart.
There are many faces of grief that might be common to our current experience, like shock, loss, helplessness, loneliness, sadness, tension, agitation, fear, and mourning. You might recognize some of these reactions in yourself or others. Look for how it manifests in your (or your child’s) behaviors.
Just as there will be variations in how grief is experienced, there are many ways for us to cope and care for ourselves. Consider these tactics for dealing with grief:
Remember that you are not alone: We are all in this together.
Shine a light on it: Acknowledge what you are feeling and try to connect it to its source. Ask yourself: What is the name of the feeling I have? What other feelings are related to that? What is causing that feeling? Identifying it makes it more manageable, instead of having an unknown lurking in the background.
Do something new: This is a novel time, so explore novel self-care techniques. Commit to trying one thing you haven’t before: print and color a mandala, play loud music and dance, practice deep breathing, get a meditation app (Headspace and Calm are so easy to use!), do online yoga, or take a new walking route.
Reach out to others: Because grief is so personal and varied, it can be isolating. Seek support to validate your experiences. Social connection has been scientifically proven to positively charge our neuroactivity and enhance our mood.
Give words to your experience: Externalize your internal experiences by dictating them, typing them, writing them, or drawing them. This “dump” also enables you to look at that experience from a clearer and less subjective perspective.
Look for meaning: Push beyond just accepting and coping with this difficult experience. Search for new meaning and lessons learned. What light is there in this for you? What clarity do you have now that you didn’t before?
Don’t guilt yourself into not grieving: There is always someone who has a worse situation, but it does not help to judge your grief as unworthy by comparison. Your feelings are valid and deserve recognition. Acknowledging them does not make someone else’s situation worse, but it can make yours better.