Grief in Isolation: The Real Face of Covid and 7 Ways That Help Me Cope
Over the last months, everyone everywhere has lost someone or something. The whole world is suffering as the virus that causes Covid-19 continues to spread and impact millions.
Like so many thousands around the world, we are grieving the loss of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, friends, neighbors, colleagues. These special people meant so much, but now we can only grieve alone, isolated from the comfort of the world.
We are all grieving the loss of normalcy and routine during this global crisis. Easing back into life after a loss is difficult under ‘normal’ circumstances. Nothing feels even slightly normalish now.
My Personal Loss
On May 15, 2020, my family suffered a tragic loss with the sudden death of my mother-in-law, Patricia Blumberg. After two days in the hospital and four days in hospice care, this perfectly healthy woman passed away.
She had been talking of shortness of breath and sleepiness, and though the virus test came out negative, we aren’t inclined to believe the results.
The graveside service was small, immediate family only, covered in sorrow and masks. If we were not in the middle of this pandemic, the chapel would have been overflowing with love from her friends, extended family, and community.
Too Many Losses at Once
The loss of Patricia brought an unexpected revival of the grief I’d felt over losing my mother to cancer more than 31 years ago. I thought I had grieved that loss fully, but now the old grief has rushed back and is present alongside this new loss.
Like many others, I feel overwhelmed by personal losses, business losses, the loss of friendly hugs, alongside the losses resulting from the global pandemic and the racial injustices.
Sitting with the silence of grief during this time is hard, really hard. I know I can’t rush the grieving process, but how I wish I could!
What I do instead is listen to Manoj Dias, a mindfulness teacher, who says that allowing our bodies to feel the weight of our emotions without creating a story around them is how we transform our heartbreak into compassionate action.
I know that I am more sensitive than the average person – several therapists have told me so, and my own experience has confirmed it. I am sensitive to the world around me; I feel others’ pain, happiness, joy, and sorrow. I can feel all the nuanced changes in my body, including all the little aches and pains.
This sensitivity is not a good thing or a bad thing. It is not a character fault or shortcoming. I look at it as part of my DNA. It simply is. It is one of the reasons I am good at what I do for a living. It helps me to be empathetic and a good listener.
Ways to Unfurl Grief
I know that everyone grieves differently, and there’s no one way to go about it. Here are some things that are helping me on this journey:
I know that books don’t necessarily hold the answers, but I read them because they offer me comfort and inspiration Some particularly good titles are Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, and More Beautiful Than Before by Steve Leder.
Taking Care of Myself
I look after the things I have a bit of control over – my health and wellness, my schedule, and my business.
I get out of my head and my house on a regular basis to mitigate my anxiety.
I know I don’t have to do everything on my own, so I created ‘Team Sharon’, a small circle of loving souls to support me in this time. Asking for help is out of my comfort zone, but I need to honor my need to receive in times of challenge.
I pay very close attention to the words I am using. For example, I say “I am grateful that I have been loved by two mothers” instead of “I have lost my mother in law.”
Research has proven that gratitude buffers the challenges we all face in life. For me, it is important to activate that sense of gratitude and to do so on a daily basis. It is helping me cope.
Not Giving Up
I remind myself that being resilient doesn’t mean that I will bounce back quickly or without setbacks. It means having the tenacity to not give up no matter the circumstances. It also means to leverage my strengths to maintain my physical and emotional wellbeing during the time of crisis and uncertainty.
Working on My Patience
I am not the patient type, and it has been hard to work through the residual feelings of fear and exhaustion. On a daily basis, I try to be patient and compassionate to allow myself the time to heal from the losses.
I know that grief takes time and requires love, patience, and support from family and close friends. With my team close by, I will handle anything.
“Pain diminishes us, and it is so important to remember, in the midst of pain and everything that pain takes from you, that still… you are enough. You are enough just as you are. You are worthy of love and kindness. You are enough. And you have enough.” – Steve Leder
What are you grieving in this time of Covid? Which of your losses has been the most painful? How do you work through grief? What practices have helped you cope with the present situation of grieving in isolation? Please share with our community and let’s have a conversaion.