Grieving During COVID-19: It’s Different for Every Person and Situation (Part Two)

This is part two of the three-part series Each Mind Matters is running about the various types of grief related to the pandemic. Grieving looks different for each person. Today’s blog covers the grief and mental health challenges associated with the loss of celebration of life’s most important milestones.

The content in this article was developed prior to the national protests and organizing following the homicide of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Each Mind Matters recognizes the profound impact of systemic racism in this country, including the mental health disparities and trauma experienced by Black and African American communities. Many marginalized communities and individuals often face complicated grief which stems from acts of violence, bigotry and hate.

Dealing with the Loss of Important Milestones

The coronavirus outbreak has unquestionably changed the way we live and for many it has changed how we celebrate major milestones in our lives. Those of us who were looking forward to celebrating a wedding, graduation, birthday of a loved one, or even a new birth have been forced to adjust and find different ways to try to celebrate these special moments. Knowing we may not experience the joy and happiness of these major milestones can contribute to lingering grief and sadness.

Missing out on highly anticipated milestones and celebrations can feel devasting, and those feelings of despair are valid. Grief is a natural reaction after experiencing an important loss or significant change. Grief can be difficult to cope with, but it is necessary in our healing process. No matter the reason for your grief, please remember that you are not alone.

Everyone has their own path to healing and no two people grieve the same way. The key is being understanding and accepting of the situation to find ways to cope with loss. No matter your grieving process, it is important to stay connected. Talking to people who you trust can help with feelings of anguish, fear, and anger. Learning how to cope with your grief can ultimately help you grow and learn from this difficult experience.

So, how do you cope with grief and sadness? Here are some tips that might help.

  • Practice Self-CareCaring for yourself during a time of crisis can feel almost impossible but doing this can have a positive impact on your physical and mental well-being. Consider focusing on things like maintaining a healthy diet, making sure you are getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and, if possible, try to exercise and keep a regular sleeping schedule. Self-care may also mean reducing your screen time on your phone or consumption of news during these times.
  • Talk to Family and Friends – When dealing with grief it can be easy to want to isolate yourself and shut out those around you. Keeping in touch with your family and friends can help your healing process. Be sure to lean on and check in on your support system often during a time of crisis – it can benefit them as much as it benefits you. Also, take a look back at our recent blog to learn how to stay connected during this period of physical distancing.
  • Seek Professional Help – If you think talking to a mental health professional can be helpful, make sure you reach out. Even with physical distancing orders in place, mental health professionals are now offering virtual therapy services. If you or somebody you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a trained professional. If you or somebody you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.
  • Consider Reframing Ways to Celebrate – Even though physical distancing is forcing us to forego the way we would typically observe milestones, we can find alternate ways to celebrate them. For example, consider a physically distanced “drive-by” parade to celebrate occasions such as birthdays and graduations. For other types of celebrations such as weddings, consider inviting people to witness via a livestream.

Remember you are not alone. We are all in this together and help is available. For more resources to help you cope with grief, please see the list below:

APA: Saying goodbye in the age of physical distancing

USCF: Emotional Well-Being and Coping During COVID-19

San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services: Coping with Grief & Los during COVID-19

NCBI: Loss and Grief amidst COVID-19: A Path to Adaptation and Resilience

CNBC: How to cope with grief during the COVID-19 pandemic

Understanding Grief in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Purdue University: Coping with Grief and Loss – Mourning the Changes since COVID-19

For related content: Grieving During COVID-19: Loss and Complicated Grief