We usually associate grief with the loss of someone close to us. However, grief is also related to the loss of anything that you love such as a relationship, employment, family roles, or anything else that defines who you are as a person.
The advent of coronavirus means that many things in our society have changed. Some people have lost jobs resulting in a loss of their sense of who they are.
There are people who have had to take on different roles such as homeschooling. In general, people are feeling the loss of freedom as more and more restrictions are placed on what we can do.
As a result, we are grieving. Some are aware of their sense of grief, but many aren’t. However, the grief and the adjustment that it calls for is being shown in other ways such as loss of patience, angry outbursts, and distancing oneself from others.
Grief is defined as the expression of the feelings that you experience when something important to you is lost. The pain of grief goes through several stages and not necessarily in a set order. It is vital at this time to understand that you have a sense of grief occurring and to cut yourself and others around you some slack.
The stages of grief and how they relate to your current lockdown situation
Denial, numbness, and shock: This stage protects the individual from the intensity of the loss. Numbness is a normal reaction to an immediate loss. During this stage, the individual struggles to accept what has happened. There are thoughts of “it’s not real”, “it’s only for a short period then everything goes back to normal”, “somehow the government will fix this”, or “there is a miracle out there, and everything will be okay”. All of these thoughts isolate us from the reality of what’s happening. Perhaps everything will be okay and maybe not. Maybe society will return to normal and perhaps not—either way, we still need to accept where we are at the moment. Acceptance is the key to moving past this stage.
Bargaining: Involves thoughts about how we could have avoided our current situation. Maybe we should have gone into lockdown earlier, perhaps we should have closed the borders earlier, or perhaps the government is overreacting, and we don’t need to be in lockdown. These thoughts simply trap us at this level, stop us from accepting what has happened, and prevent us from deciding to plan for the future.
Depression: This stage occurs in some people when they realise the extent of what they have lost. For some, the loss is small, but for others, it has had a significant impact on their lives. If you currently have income, and you not worried about your mortgage or rent, then the current lockdown is an inconvenience. However, if you have lost your employment and possibly your career, lost your business and are under threat from being homeless then the loss is significant.
Anger: whenever we feel helpless and powerless, there is the possibility that we become angry. Anger can arise because we feel abandoned, it can occur because we think that somehow we shouldn’t be in this situation and we blame ourselves for it, and it can arise as anger towards those who are in charge or at life in general.
Acceptance: The key to all of this is acceptance. If we can accept that the situation exists, we are now in a place to be able to plan what we can do, considering where we are at the moment. This is where planning for the future starts. Bear in mind at this point; we are not planning for a future that looks like it used to look. Things have changed. For example, business-wise new opportunities will emerge out of this. How do we take advantage of that? Starting to talk about these things gives us a focus away from what we have lost towards new possibilities.
None of this is easy. Certainly, I have to go through this process myself, and so I don’t write this from an academic point of view but personal experience. If you want help with this process, then give us a call on (07) 3458 1725. Grief and loss is something that we can help people to move through and find a different and better future.
We are currently offering video-based counselling at a special price for the rest of April 2020. Call us on 07 3458 1725 for details or go to https://www.startpointcounselling.com.au/.