Grief doesn’t have a particular face or form. It affects us in different ways, showing up sometimes like a two-headed monster, or a silent and all-consuming sadness, or as an angry and bitter soul. It’s hard to recognize and identity and sometimes catches us unawares.
Sometimes it’s caused by obvious causes and losses; other times, things are not that straightforward or evident. Sometimes it’s easy to identify, but other times it’s impossible to recognize.
Grief can look one way for you and another for someone you hold dear. It’s a collective yet individual process. There’s a lot to understand about grief, and grieving during the COVID-19 crisis is very real.
Why are we grieving the way we are?
Grief and loss tend to go hand in hand. We’re grieving the loss of life as we knew it, simply put.
We’re grieving for lives that have actually been lost, especially of those we loved. That in and of itself is a long and tedious process to go through, somehow made worse with the terrifyingly lonely death and funeral procedures during COVID-19.
Families aren’t getting a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones, or to congregate and share space with their community. Funerals and other rituals that bring a sense of normalcy and comfort are harder to manage too.
We’re grieving for the loss of love from being apart, and fear for those still alive—including ourselves—and those at risk, or who are ill, with the virus or otherwise.
We’re grieving a loss of stability and income and financial security, with thousands of people losing their jobs almost overnight. For those with jobs, it’s a radical shift in the way you’ve always worked, and for others still, they’re on the frontlines as medical professionals and essential workers.
We’re grieving communally, even when we haven’t lost anything tangible. It’s a shared burden and a difficult one to bear. We’re grieving what is to come and what the future holds. Your grief is justified.
What does this grief look like?
Typically, a lot of experts break grief down to a process. Steps vary, but essentially, they can look like denial, anger, bargaining, despair, and acceptance.
Some of us might rush through particular stages or skip them completely, while others take a long time to move past each of them. Each stage is accompanied by feelings and emotions and affects your thought process.
From having difficulty in admitting the change or issue to taking desperate measures to protect yourself and eventually accepting the situation for what it is, the journey is long and hard—but eventually, you’ll make it out the other side.
Seeking help and support
As cumbersome as it is, you don’t need to go through this alone. We’re in a unique stage of life, where somehow, you’re truly not alone in the way you feel. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, or you’re anxious and upset, or feelings are triggered by the situation, there are millions of others just like you.
Your community, friends, and family, even strangers, are rooting for you, and for each other and practitioners such as myself are always there to help. If you’re looking for depression and anxiety counseling in Palo Alto, feel free to reach out to me for a free 20 minute session. I specialize in anxiety treatment and for a range of mental health issues.