I’ve always enjoyed being able to witness significant moments in history. You know, like being able to see the first Black man as President of the United States, or even being able to witness how technology has evolved over the years. I can say that dial-up internet was a new advancement when I was a child and now I’m able to witness the technology of today including social media, drones, and cryptocurrencies. Whether they are positive or negative, those are the sort of moments that get captured for history books so that we can share them with the generations of the future. And that’s exactly what we’re living through right now with the Corona Virus pandemic.
Every single person on the planet has been impacted by this virus in one way or another. Whether you or someone you know is fighting the virus, is considered an essential worker and has to be on the frontlines, has lost their job or their financial income has been significantly jeopardised, whose mental (or even spiritual) health has been plagued with stressors due to isolation or overwhelm of the unknown, or even has had significant events cancelled like conferences, festivals, or weddings, we have all been impacted.
Around Week 2 or 3 of social distancing, I started to really feel the impact of how everything was changing around me. I was now working from home, had to send out my regrets for meet-ups that I needed to postpone, and suddenly I started to feel my delayed reactions of anger and upset. Being the introvert that I am, I thought I’d love this. Okay maybe not love, but I thought I’d be good at it. And for the most part I was right – I’m great at spending time solo! But for the longest time I was ignoring, or didn’t quite understand the feelings that I was experiencing, and why they were even coming up for me. I was “good” for the most part so why was I sometimes angry, sad, or even in this weird funk? And then I realised that I was grieving. We are all grieving the loss of the life that we once had prior to Covid-19.
– Grief Recovery Method
Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour.
The pandemic won’t go on forever, but I know that there will continue to be changes to ensure that we safely return to normalcy. My island home is starting Phase 1 of a plan to safely reopen our country as we speak. I understand that this was inevitable and we just need to be patient because we never know what will happen next. But that’s logic talking, and I can’t just ignore the giant elephant in the room that is our grief.
As we know, I’m no stranger to the subject. I was inspired to create Big Girl Panties after going through my mom’s death, and then being diagnosed with a chronic illness a few years later. Because of my past knowledge as a griever, I started to think about all of the helpful tools that I learned over the years to help myself during future experiences I may have with grief. And right now seems like a perfect time where we could all use some of these tools to help get us through this very new, difficult, *insert dramatically descriptive word here* situation. So here’s a few reminders for us to think about when we are going through all the grief related feels during this pandemic.
Although I may feel alone, I’m not actually alone.
There’s no one else that knows exactly how you are feeling right now because that’s personal to you. But that does not mean that people do not care. There’s significant power in community and having your voice being heard. Open up and share what you are going through so that others can support you during this time. You can do this by reaching out to a trusted loved one via text, video chat, or even someone that you’re quarantined with, to let them know how you feel. And if you don’t feel like talking, just their physical (or virtual) presence can help remind you that you’re not alone.
Take things moment by moment. My different emotions are valid and it’s okay that they change.
When we experience a loss of any kind, our emotions can go all over the place. During this time, be gentle with yourself and know that it’s normal to have moments when you don’t feel positive. You are experiencing something brand new, tragic even, and as life continues to evolve, so will how you feel about it all. Be okay with that. This is a new stage in the continuous journey of life. Hang on, my friend.
It’s okay to cry and be sad.
Releasing your emotions through tears and having a good ol’ cry is actually helpful to us. We are releasing sadness, frustration, anxiety and grief so that we can enter a more calming biological and emotional state. That’s why we usually feel so much better afterwards. And quite literally, crying releases cortisol and other stress hormones from the body, which if kept built up inside, can cause negative impacts on our physical health. So keep calm and cry on!
Healthy eating habits can support my energy levels during an emotional time. So can exercise.
Comfort food usually comes to mind when we think of sadness or going through a tough time. So does alcohol. And I’m not saying that those 2 things can’t have their place, but in moderation! It’s all about balance 🙂 Having too much junk food can cause you to feel groggy, tired and uninspired. Much like how we feel emotionally when we grieve. People may also choose to use excess amounts alcohol because it can give you an escape. But alcohol is a depressant to the central nervous system and can actually magnify symptoms of nervousness, sadness or depression. Yikes!
Choosing to nourish your body with fruits and vegetables and exercising throughout the week will support you on those days when you’re not feeling your best emotionally. And on the days that you are in a better mood, you’ll notice your heightened energy levels help you to have a more positive and productive day.
It’s helpful for me to check in with certified health professionals when needed.
I know that I said that one of the first things we should do when going through a tough time mentally is to reach out to a loved one. And this does help. However, you can also consider reaching out to a counsellor or therapist to help you in your time of grief. I know first hand the benefit of working with a trusted professional to help me with the whirlwind of feelings I experienced after loss. This also applies if you are having a tough time spiritually as well. Talking to a trusted pastor or leader within your faith community can help support you during a vulnerable or confusing moment. And in this case, I believe that going straight to the source is even more helpful. There have been endless occasions where I’ve talked to, yelled in frustration, or cried out my emotions to God. When we’re sick physically, we’ll go to the doctor or hospital if we need to right? The same care should apply for our mental or spiritual health!
I don’t need to rush to find meaning behind my loss.
This lesson was a big one for me. And I still need to remind myself of this while we’re going through this pandemic. It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling and just take each day as it comes. You do not need rush to try and find purpose within this (or any other) difficult time.
Personally, I’ve found that meaning or a lesson of sorts usually reveals itself over time after I’ve gone through a difficult ordeal. But I don’t need to go hunting for that. And you don’t need to force yourself to believing the meaning that someone else has come up with either. Remember, you are never alone but everything that you’re feeling is personal to you. It’s your journey. And it’s valid.
There’s my 2 cents added! I hope that you’ve found my reminders helpful. Grief is such a weird topic to discuss because it’s all so relative and personal. But here we are experiencing a crisis that’s impacting the entire world, and there’s a chance for us to deepen our sense of community. As a fellow griever, I also know what it’s like to refuse to claim that I actually am “grieving”. I found it tough to talk about because I used to equate that definition to feeling isolated and it was something that I was ashamed of. Or I didn’t want to face the reality of my current loss. If you find yourself grieving during this time, these reminders can each help us on the days when we do need them. For now I’ll just be taking each
day moment as it comes.
Stay well & I hope to see you when Outside opens up again!