Take a moment to think about the many changes and losses you have experienced this year: death or illness of a loved one, the inability to be together, change in routines including working from home, distance learning to financial struggles and job instability or loss and canceled life events. These changes are challenging during “normal” times, never mind during a pandemic. What has changed for you this year?
It is important to note that it is normal and natural to grieve change of any kind. The Grief Recovery Method defines grief as the conflicting feelings that happen when something familiar ends or changes. Just as it is essential to deal with physical pain, it is also vital to deal with difficult emotions, especially during a pandemic. Allowing and accepting your feelings, validating them, and seeking support are key ways to process pandemic grief.
Allow Yourself to Feel
Bring awareness to your feelings about the changes you’ve experienced. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up for you. Know that you can allow a wave of emotion to come, and if you don’t fight it, it will wash away.
Name all that is coming up for you. Journal about it, or share with a compassionate listener. Breathe into the experience of allowing your emotional truth. As you acknowledge everything that comes up for you and name it, you can then release the energy around it, freeing you from that drain.
Validate Those Feelings with Compassion
We all have moments when we need to set down our heavy loads and hide from ourselves. That’s okay. Sometimes distractions make us feel different, not better.
Hold compassion for yourself, and extend yourself unconditional love while also being honest with “what” you are doing and “why.” Try saying, “Right now, I want a pint of ice cream (insert distraction), and that is okay, and tonight I will let myself feel this sadness (insert uncomfortable feeling here). All my feelings are valid.”
When you do take time to validate your feelings withhold judgment, criticism and analysis. Find a compassionate listener who will do the same or write down your feelings. Avoid comparing your circumstances with others because your feelings are valid.
Give Yourself Permission to Seek Support
The pandemic may make it harder to find in-person support. While not the same, there are online resources, including therapy, grief counseling and support groups. You can also lean on your trusted friends and family.
Sometimes we are our own best support. Treat yourself with the same love and compassion you would a loved one. Bolster your self-care routine with simple acts that anyone can do at any time.
Grieving 2020 will Renew Us
We hope that having a word for what you have experienced—grief—is helpful to validate any conflicting feelings. What you are feeling is normal, natural and expected with so much change and loss. Acknowledge, validate, seek support and then release the pain. Extend compassion and grace to yourself and others. Rinse and repeat.