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Bridge to Health Blog
Bridge to Health Blog

Grief, not as we know it

Written by Deborah Kerr   Posted in:Counselling / Psychotherapy   April 6, 2020

Grief, not as we know it
These days, our screens are full of faces as we meet our social needs in the era of the virtual world. House Party, Zoom, Netflix Party is all but a few. But as we rally to curb our boredom, stave off loneliness or manage the full-on dynamics of a family in a lock-down household, how are we truly feeling about the sudden and dramatic changes inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic? How are you feeling during this distressing time?
Now the global pandemic has reached our shores, I'm part of the collective frenzy, needing to know how to control the uncontrollable. Heightened emotions become channelled into productivity. 'I should be keeping in touch, staying positive, being creative. I should be productive whether it's spring cleaning or engaging in business strategies, and most of all, finding fun; dwelling on the bright side'. But how are you feeling? Let's name it. It's called grief; I know, as it's a self-diagnosis because I'm part of it too. 
Grief comes in many forms and death is not its single focus. Grief is not just for the loss of someone. Grief is the soul partner of any change, and anticipatory grief is only one aspect that we are all facing right now. It causes much stress and anxiety because we're uncertain what the future holds. Our primitive mind knows something is up, and something is coming. This anticipatory grief is the loss of our sense of safety, and we are grieving collectively and individually.
Denial is a mere characteristic of grief too, and for each of us, our reactions differ. Forms of denial such as refusing the reality and presence of the virus will get to you. It could be anger at being told to stay home, reassuring oneself all will be well if one just attends to this or that, or worrying about when will this all end.
So what else are we grieving over right now? Not only the primitive sense of safety but the loss of normality. Our freedom and routine have taken a big hit, as well as loss of physical connection, loss of income, loss from life plans forced into a sudden halt. Even though this is temporary, the world has changed as we know it; and the collective grief is prevalent.
We all grieve in different ways and over different losses, big or small, so it's better to accept our situation than deny our reality.  That way, we have a better chance of managing ourselves and our feelings. By acknowledging the grief, you may be giving yourself a better chance of deriving some meaning from the whole experience.
Our power lies in letting go of what we can't control.  Paradoxically, accepting our situation puts us back in control because we start to find ways in which to live alongside what's happening. Keep a sense of balance in your thinking. The best way to prevent catastrophic scenarios from dominating your mindset is to navigate that fragile line between fact and emotion with conscious care.
We can't force away our imagined worries, so instead, we need to work on finetuning a balanced perspective. We can stay focused in the present moment and find seemingly small things to do. It's the small things that remind us we do have some control, namely in the way we respond to our immediate environment. These include many routine activities as we go about our day.  Meditation, yoga and exercise, or even choosing which tv programme to watch or which book to read are just a few.
It's ludicrous to think you shouldn't be grieving right now, so dig deep on compassion, not only for yourself but for those you're cooped up with at home. Each family member or house partner will be experiencing and expressing their pain in different ways, so look out for changes in behaviour. Any aggressive, harmful or fractious behaviour could be linked to fear and anxiety rather than anything “personal”.
It may help to look back at history, as it tells us that we can indeed survive the Covid-19 crisis, the more so as we dedicate ourselves to the precautions we are all taking right now. Now is not a time to overreact, instead, in this technological era, we can connect more than ever before.
If you're struggling to accept your current situation, then allow time for feelings to surface. Give yourself some space and connect to your inner world. Our emotions need motion; our feelings are not the enemy. They need to move through us, so if you feel sad or angry, give yourself a little time to experience the feeling in and through your body. Once we allow for some time to “be with ourselves”, even if just for a few minutes, we find better ways of coping. Who knows, you may find that you begin to appreciate the small stuff, like walking the dog or having long video calls with family or friends. And once this pandemic is all over, you might find you have allowed yourself to be changed for the better by all that’s happened.

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