Grief in a Pandemic

Grief in a Pandemic

Elena Sledge,
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

I’ve been thinking a lot about the grief we’re experiencing as we cope with a pandemic. Do you struggle to accept the whirlwind that is 2020? I definitely do. The final stage of grief is considered acceptance. And it’s always easier to embrace when things are going smoothly. What WOULD it be like if we could accept life as it is right now? That feels like a major task I’m sure.

Maybe there are days when acceptance comes easily. But we usually don’t experience grief in a linear way. We weave in and out and go back and forth. It’s exhausting and brings back bargaining with ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’s’!

Lets go over the 5 stages and how they might be manifesting for you during this pandemic.

1. Denial– You could be feeling like this isn’t even real. Feeling outrage and avoiding the news. Denial involves avoidance, shock and fear.

2. Anger– Maybe you’re feeling extreme frustration regarding the disruption in routine. Anger also brings feelings of anxiety and irritation.

3. Bargaining– You could be negotiating in order to avoid grief and pain. Bargaining is an attempt to regain control. It involves questions like “If only I had done XYZ, then this would not have happened like this.”

4. Depression– Maybe you’re feeling some despair and can’t see a way out of these circumstances. Depression may bring up questions like, “What’s the point?” and have you feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

5. Acceptance– The stage in which you explore new options and focus on moving on. This may feel especially difficult when so much feels out of your control. Acceptance says “I’ll be okay and be able to find a way forward despite what has happened.”

Remember, these stages are just a useful framework; grief can look so different from person to person!

So what can you do while navigating this process? Focus on accepting your grief and all that comes with it, rather than trying to accept an entire pandemic! Feelings are not good or bad. Use them to gain knowledge, develop, and connect. And remember to look upon yourself and your experience with compassion.

            If you find yourself needing more support, please reach out to us at (407)-355-7378. We would be happy to help!