COVID-19 has brought our normal to a hard stop. Everything we know has changed: going to work; dropping our kids off at day care; hanging out with friends; visiting a loved one in the hospital; buying groceries; etc. We are now asked to incorporate a distance of 6’ from each other in everything we do; and for those who have returned from another country, a 14-day self-imposed isolation. Our familiar has changed and this throws us off balance.
When we experience a change in what was familiar, we may be left with conflicting emotions which are challenging to understand. We may feel confused, frustrated, bored, overwhelmed, grateful, hopeful, and perhaps even a bit scared. We may feel a loss of safety, control, freedom, or even faith. These changes may also bring up feelings of grief, dredging up buried emotions we may not have been aware were there.
Since there is so much misinformation on the subject of grief, we cannot begin to know what to do, how to be, or how to cope with all of the changes we are experiencing. Here are 6 do’s and don’ts to help you through the days ahead.
Don’t isolate yourself.
Do: I understand we are practicing physical distancing but you are still able to text, call, email, Zoom, and Skype. Reach out and feel connected. Take advantage of social media platforms to stay connected with friends and relatives.
Don’t be strong for others.
Do: Be aware of how you are feeling and put those feelings into words. Be honest with how you are feeling. Share openly the emotions you are experiencing. This is NOT a time to put on a brave face and to pretend you are OK. If you are scared, say so. Your emotions begin to lose power when they are acknowledged and spoken aloud.
Don’t be too busy.
Do: Yes, as we self-isolate it is necessary to find activities to fill our days. The house still needs to be cleaned, laundry washed, and meals prepared. This is a great time to take the personal development course you have wanted to take, to learn how to meditate, finish a project which you started, etc. I caution you not to busy yourself so much you don’t check in with yourself. These are challenging times and ignoring your emotions will only increase your anxiety.
Don’t tell yourself, or others, your feelings aren’t important.
Do: Reach out and talk to one another. Allow each other to share our feelings without interruption, advice or analyzation. Simply be a “heart with ears”. Be a sounding board, a safe place where words can be expressed and heard without judgement.
Do: Understand everyone’s experience and reaction to this situation will be unique. There is no rule book. Silencing your emotions because you feel someone is worse off than you does not allow you to be honest with your own emotions. Everyone’s grief is relevant to their situation. There is no right or wrong.
Don’t replace the loss of the familiar with a distraction.
Do: Understand it is normal to want to distract ourselves from what is happening. Short term drinking, eating, working out, etc. allow us to escape but be aware of the changes in your usual way of being. It is much easier to have control over short-term-energy-relieving-behaviours (STERBS) if you are aware you are doing them.
We have been given clear instructions of how we can help: Stay 6’ from another person; cough into our sleeves; wash our hands; change our clothes; shower; wipe down areas we touch often; keep our hands away from our face; buy only what we need; stay home; rest; check on a friend. These are all very concrete ways we, as a community, can work together to move through and past this.
And most importantly, let those you care about, know how you feel. Trust your intuition. If a friend or relative pops into your head pick up the phone and call them, send them a text, or look them up on Facebook. This is not the time to leave anything unsaid.
Concentrate on what you have control over. This virus is unpredictable and we cannot know the outcome. However, we can control how we act and react. Focus on what you have. Express gratitude openly. When you feel anxious talk to a friend. Honour your current feelings and then choose how you would like to feel instead. Remember laughter is the best medicine so access sitcoms, comedies, cartoons, etc.
My final thoughts to you: Continue to be aware of your surroundings and how you can make a difference in your space of this great big world we call home. Have faith we will come out the other side, stronger and more together than we have ever been before.
Canadian Grief Recovery Method Specialist, Tammy Adams, loves to problem solve, inspire and motivate others who are ready and committed to change. Tammy has spent over 30 years in the field of education and as a Certified Life and Executive Coach Tammy teaches individuals to challenge and conquer their limiting beliefs and insecurities to create the life of their choosing. As a Grief Recovery Method Specialist Tammy understands that unresolved grief can limit an individual’s capacity for happiness and is gifted at supporting individuals through the pain and isolation cause by an emotional loss, of any kind, to a place of happiness they believed no longer existed. Tammy’s clients say, “Tammy helped me unpack the baggage and put a smile on my face in the process. It’s a rare quality for someone to fully listen without judgement but yet still steer you in the right direction.”