As we face yet another set of restrictions, many of us are growing weary of the constantly changing goalpost. We find ourselves fraught with conflicting emotions which may include being overwhelmed, lonely, hypersensitive, confused, disappointed, frustrated, and fearful. With an uncertain future, we may experience a response of anticipatory grief.
How DO we navigate this uncertainty and the resulting grief?
For months now we have been in a state of survival as we traverse the restrictions and the uncertainty of COVID. Being in survival mode has distracted us. We have failed to see we are experiencing the emotional rollercoaster associated with grief.
- the normal and natural reaction to an emotional loss of any kind.
- the conflicting emotions, brought about, by a change in something which was familiar.
- about things we wished had been better, different, or had more
- about unrealized hopes, dreams, and expectations.
- about the unsaid communications, those things we said which we thought were not heard, we failed to express, or we need to say again while someone listens.
Globally our world has been turned upside down. The familiar has been ripped away. These may be simple things such as picking up a coffee on the way to work, conversations with colleagues, going to school, cancelled vacations, and the loss of historical ceremonies or events such as prom, funerals, weddings, and the birth of a baby. We may have experienced the changes due to the death of a loved one, a broken friendship, or family members who became estranged/moved away.
I have spoken to many who have longed for more time with those they love, for these restrictions to be lifted, or for an opportunity to regain the freedom they once felt. Children who are studying in another country are unsure when, or if, they can return home to their families. Entrepreneurs have seen their dreams crushed. Employees have been fired due to lack of work or they have lost their jobs due to a personal medical choice. Pilots have seen their dreams grounded. Health care professionals are unable to provide care as they had expected.
The strain of COVID, coupled with a lack of recognition that much of what we are feeling is grief, sees us doing what we were taught. We distract ourselves with food and television. We isolate and wait for things to change. We try to be strong for those around us. All these actions make us feel worse.
Like a steam kettle, with a cork in the spout, our emotions build. Without a healthy way of identifying and processing these emotions we begin to feel hopeless – apathetic – less able to help ourselves and others. Previous losses, which have been skillfully buried, may now be amplified.
While I cannot change our current situation, I CAN help guide you through it with tips on navigating these challenging times.
- Re-read this article – and then share it. It will aid you, and your loved ones, in being more aware of the true definition of grief and the COVID related examples.
- Identify and label your feelings – it takes away some of the emotional charge.
- Be honest with yourself and those around you. This gives your friends and family permission to do the same.
- Be a heart-with-ears when someone is talking about their COVID experience. Do your best not to offer advice. Do not try to fix anything. Simply provide them a safe place to share. We are able to grow when our emotions are acknowledged and validated.
- Do not compare your losses with others. This action prevents you from being honest and able to express your emotions openly.
- Stay connected. Reach out to others by phone, text, email, Zoom, etc. This is not a time to leave things left unsaid.
- Be aware – it is the first step to recovery. We have been taught to replace loss. We are experiencing a loss of autonomy, loss of safety, loss of freedom. Potato chips, beer, drugs, online shopping, etc. will not make you feel better – they are only temporary distractions.
- Finally, take charge over the things you are able to. Your thoughts, attitudes, and how you react to your current situation are all within your control. If you need assistance, reach out to a professional who can support you in identifying, processing, and releasing any pent-up emotions.
The Grief Recovery Method has been helping grievers for years to successfully move to the other side of their pain. I applied the proven steps of the GRM during my own COVID meltdown and was able to return to a place of peace and calm. My emotions are no longer running my thoughts. I am, once again, able to be critically aware of my experience. You too can navigate this uncertainty from a similar space.
Tammy Adams, Certified Coach Practitioner offering support, in-person or online, Canada-wide.She is certified in The Grief Recovery Method®, Personality Dimensions™, Reiki, Access Bars®, and Mindfulness. To learn more about the services she offers, book a 20-minute free phone consult, or visit her service tab on her website at https://tadams.ca/