Grief and Loss
With the hope of the vaccine ending the pandemic, it is important for us to acknowledge that we are dealing with losses experienced at the hands of the virus. For some, it is the loss of a loved one. For others, it is the loss of life experience, work, and finances. It is important to acknowledge your losses and your feelings of grief. I encourage you to talk to your friends or close family. Grief can happen in response to loss of daily routines and ways-of- life that usually bring us comfort and a feeling of stability. Acknowledge your feelings and process them with friends. Consider what you have learned from all of the experiences you've had during COVID-19 and how you can take this knowledge and build informed changes into your life going forward.
If you’ve lost a loved one find ways to express your feelings through remembering and memorializing their life. If you are worried about future losses, try to stay in the present and focus on aspects of your life that you have control over right now. Because of the pandemic, you might be unable to be with a loved one when they pass or be unable to mourn someone’s death with the company of friends and family. Concentrate on finding meaningful alternative ways to memorialize our loved one. Synchronize a time with others to honor your loved one by reciting a poem, spiritual reading, or prayer. Or develop a virtual memory book, blog, or webpage to remember your loved one, and ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories.
We also have to acknowledge that those dealing with loss experienced at the hands of the virus includes our children and teens. Children may not understand and ask a lot of questions you need to answer at their level. Adolescents experience grief in ways that are both similar and different than children and adults. Adolescents may experience significant changes in their sleep patterns, isolate themselves more, frequently appear irritable or frustrated, withdraw from usual activities, or engage more frequently with technology. It is important for parents or caregivers to engage with their children and adolescents over their grief and to promote the use of healthy coping skills and acceptance.
It is important for us not to judge others' reactions to the losses they have encountered. Strive to be more forgiving and open to the differences and needs of others. Together we can move through the difficulties and losses we are experiencing and with each other's help, we can find hope and healing from this international traumatic experience.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director, Appleseed Community Mental Health Center