While working on this blogpost, I knew I wanted to write about COVID-19 and Trauma/Grief. I kept going back to the idea of writing about how to cope with this Pandemic experience. I was doing my searching of ideas and resources over the internet and I found a plethora of blogs, self-help advice and lists of coping skills and “how to” this or that in the face of the Coronavirus. What I didn’t find was the idea of not doing anything in particular, and instead giving yourself time and space to grieve in the middle of this worldwide pandemic. Now that we are amid a global crisis, all of us are grieving, as we all are losing something.
We know -thanks to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross– that the grieving process has five stages: Denial (the shock), Anger, Bargaining (what-ifs and regrets), Depression (deep sadness), and Acceptance (the acknowledgment). These five stages were intended to describe the process, they were not conceived as a method for tucking messy emotions into neat packages. Grief is an extremely powerful process, in which the roller coaster of deep emotions overlaps each other like a spiral. While grieving could be general to every human being, each person grieves in his or her own unique way.
Now that we are experiencing this global pandemic, it is important to acknowledge that it doesn’t require a major important loss or experiencing death firsthand in order to experience grief. We are all grieving losing the life we knew before the quarantine.
We are grieving:
The loss of a loved one
The loss of your own health
The loss of your job
The premature end of the school year
The pressure of having kids home all day and having to become their teacher
Our situations: trying to make sense and find purpose in our daily life
I want to invite you to give yourself time to grieve and if you feel stuck and overwhelmed by the roller coaster of emotions, please seek for professional help before the extremely powerful force of grief gets you and you find yourself stuck in your pain and remain bitter, angry, or depressed.
It is ok not to be ok
You are grieving, we are all grieving, and no matter what stage of the grieving process you are currently in, give yourself time. Allow yourself to get comfortable with the idea of not doing something in particular to try to make sense of this whole experience because this is not the moment to make sense, that will come later. Allow yourself the normal feelings of anger, sadness and emptiness that comes with this special process, and at the same allow yourself to seek with curiosity for the space to heal. We cannot move forward and find purpose or meaning of this pandemic experience, if we don’t allow ourselves to feel the experience of losing and live the grief before we move on.
I can not tell you that we are all in the same boat, we aren’t. We are all in the same turbulent ocean of emotions that comes with grief, but we are navigating that ocean in different boats, built from our own set of skills and personal experiences. Everyone reacts differently to a loss, based on age, previous experience, current supports, resources and resiliency ability. No matter the type of boat that you have to navigate this waters of grieving, I believe that the hardest part is not in the feeling of missing what we have lost, but in allowing ourselves to feel and process the feeling of uncertainty and the feeling of emptiness, necessary to prepare the space for something new to happen.
As Victor Frankl beautifully described in his masterpiece, life always holds a potential meaning under any circumstances. And we can find that meaning even in the smallest of moments only if we are open to feel and to create the space for it.
If you are interested in more information about the grieving process and find meaning and purpose after a loss, I personally recommend the following books:
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss,
by Elisabet Kübler-Ross & David Kessler.
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor E. Frankl.
Finding Meaning: The sixth stage of grief, by David Kessler.
For support throughout this quarantine, reach out to Paola Gomez via our website
Paola Gomez, Ph. D.
My approach as a bilingual therapist (English/Spanish) involves traditional psychodynamic therapeutic styles blended with attachment based and dialectical behavior models to provide a therapeutic relationship that facilitate the accomplishment of your short and long term goals through a fulfilling life. I also incorporate elements of mind-body and meditation to help you to listen to your body as your main source of signs to heal.