How to Express Grief From the Pandemic

While some people lost family members and loved ones to COVID-19, fortunately, many of us did not experience loss on this scale. All of us have, however, experienced a loss of some kind during the pandemic. Some people lost their jobs, social connections, opportunities to engage in passions, or other meaningful parts of their daily lives. Individuals in recovery might have relapsed due to the stress of the situation and lost time going back into treatment. As we continue to push forward through the pandemic, we might want to take some time to acknowledge our grief.

Giving Ourselves the Opportunity to Grieve

During the podcast “Which Way?” with Fire Mountain executive director Shari Simmons, Shari and her mother, Jann, discuss “Grief and Loss During COVID-19.” The loss of connection with others, the feeling of belonging, or the freedom to go outside without worry can impact our mental health. 

When we do not allow ourselves the opportunity to grieve these losses, they can impact us as much as any loss. Some of us may have denied our grief to protect ourselves from acknowledging painful feelings. We might deny that the pandemic has impacted us or feel that we have no reason to be upset because we remained healthy. Others might have been affected financially and could not take the time to grieve and were just trying to stay afloat.

As we are hopefully nearing an end to the restrictions imposed upon us by COVID-19, we can take time now to fully grieve what we have lost. Without acknowledging our grief, we might continue to put up barriers to defend ourselves against any vulnerability. 

Time to Reflect on the Pandemic

We can give ourselves just five to ten minutes to reflect on our losses during the pandemic. These moments can provide us with the chance to grieve our losses. Grief serves the purpose of allowing us to acknowledge the importance and influence of anything within our lives. We might grieve normalcy or simple things like being able to see people in casual spaces. To move forward from this, sit down and write out what is missed or lost. We can heal by going through our grief.

Finding the Good in a Bad Situation

We might also acknowledge that we changed during this time or found resiliency we never knew we had. Some people found that the lockdowns and restrictions changed their outlook on things. They might have gotten closer to their families or realized what was truly essential in their lives. We can acknowledge the pain and hurt of the pandemic while also looking for the positive side.

While no one would argue that the pandemic was a “good thing,” we could not control the overall impact. Looking for the positive things that came out of a negative situation is not a way of “praising” a bad thing. Instead, seeking the good changes to come out of a bad situation will help us adapt to the changes imposed upon us. Ultimately, the grieving process is about moving forward and adapting to our losses. 

Some positive changes that people have noticed include:

  • Being able to work from home and spend more time with family
  • Access to therapist and support groups online eliminating the need for transportation
  • With less pressure for social obligations, some people re-discovered former passions or formed new interests
  • Completing projects that were waiting for a day when “there was more time”
  • Finding new career paths that might have been left unexplored otherwise
  • Learning how to reach out to others when feeling lonely
  • Discovering strengths and resiliency in a time of strife

Adapting to the Changes

Due to the uncertainty over when things will go back to “normal,” acknowledging our grief and accepting our strengths can help us adapt to changes from the pandemic. Many unknowns create some uncertainty about the future, post-COVID world. We might need to continue restricting the time that we spend in public spaces. Our jobs might continue to be “remote” or a hybrid of in-person and online. If we were furloughed temporarily, our company might have to downsize following the pandemic’s economic impact. 

We can embrace these changes while still missing the day-to-day regularities of the pre-COVID area. Adapting is a strength necessary to moving forward. How well we can adapt to the losses of the pandemic will determine our success in a post-COVID world. 

By clinging to the past and missing our pre-pandemic lives, pining for the day when everything goes back to “normal,” we might set ourselves up for disappointment. We do not know if the world will return precisely to where it was. Most likely, the world will change. We can decide if our world changes for the better following the tragedy of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted much of our day-to-day lives for nearly a year. What we knew as “normal” may seem like a distant time out of our reach. Most of us have experienced a loss of some kind. Fortunately, not everyone had to deal with sickness or death in their families. However, the implications of COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s lives. Have we taken the time to grieve and acknowledge this loss? Have we tried to look for the good things in a bad situation? As we begin to see some normalcy return, the world will likely remain changed in some way. We can acknowledge our grief and adapt to the new world moving forward. For alumni and families of loved ones in recovery, the stress of the pandemic may have proven to be too much to bear alone. If you are struggling with relapse or other issues during this time, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here to support you. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.

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