Grief is a natural and universal experience we all share following the loss of something or someone we value. It can seem overwhelming, and leave people feeling uncertain about the future. The pandemic has brought about loss on a worldwide scale, and the very idea of our normal has been challenged.
Grief is an ongoing process we experience throughout our lives when we experience any sort of change. It is not a linear process, and can be complicated. People may feel a variety of emotions, and the process can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It’s perfectly normal to experience a spectrum of emotions from sadness to happiness, from despair to hope, and from tears to laughter. This can occur in the span of a day, or within a few minutes. Take a moment to self reflect on the emotions you may have come across today, or even within the last few minutes.
Grief can impact our sense of safety as we attempt to navigate a new sense of self in a world which may no longer feel safe. It can challenge us physically, spiritually, emotionally, cognitively, and interpersonally. You may experience emotions such as sadness, helplessness, or anxiety. Grief can challenge, reaffirm, or shift our spiritual beliefs. It can change existing relationships, and provide opportunities to create new ones. Grief can impact our thoughts, and we may report feeling forgetful, or a sense of feeling ‘off’. Grieving takes physical energy, and that can result in feeling tired, exhausted, or sleeping more than usual. If any of these resonate with you, this is a good reminder to practice kindness. There’s no such thing as powering through our grief, or getting to the magical finish line. Grief is a unique experience for us all, and it cannot be rushed! Practice self compassion and kindness as a way to allow yourself to check in on your personal needs, and prioritize your self-care.
One of the things I commonly hear is that grief can be an isolating and lonely experience. With people already being physically isolated, it’s an important reminder to find ways to create space for your grief. Check in with someone: Pick a friend or a loved one you can talk to openly about what you’re experiencing and how it’s impacting you. Sharing what you’re going through with others can be normalizing and validating, and you may be surprised to hear someone is feeling something similar. Consider checking in with a mental health professional if you’re struggling, and require professional assistance. Finding opportunities to grieve, or scheduling a time to process what you are going through can also be helpful. For example, this may look like ‘grief time’ when you’re out for a walk. This may sound odd because we don’t have control over the waves of grief, but it can be powerful to acknowledge the waves as they occur, and then remind yourself to check-in when the moment is available. You may feel apprehension about delving into your grief, and some common fears relate to getting stuck and feeling unable to shift. Try naming it: Naming your grief allows you to be in control and acknowledge what you are feeling, rather than having your emotions control you. Anger is a common response which can arise due to loss. Allow yourself to experience the feelings of anger, but not at your expense or the expense of others. Write down what you have lost, and take a moment to process the emotions as they arise. Do so without judgement of yourself or others, and notice what you’re feeling without wanting or expecting any change from it. Remember, the situation won’t always be this way.
Change is one of the inevitable experiences of human existence, and with it comes loss. Through forced change, we strive to create a new sense of normal. We are all collectively experiencing grief due to the loss of jobs, loss of loved ones, loss of normalcy, loss of choice, and the loss of freedoms like hugging family members or friends. My hope for you is that you are able to find healing, health, and happiness during this time. Stay safe and healthy Chestermere.