Grieving and Loss through COVID-19 Times

Being mindful of the things for which we are grateful.

Health and Wellness The challenges of living in this interesting but tumultuous time of the viral pandemic continue for most of us. Many have lost their jobs or livelihood – some temporarily, some permanently – and must reckon with this new reality and its resolution. Some have lost loved ones. And many of us feel as if we have lost something else that is very important, due to the restrictions and demands imposed on us during this time. 

One of those is surely freedom. We sense that certain restrictions ensure our safety and well-being and realize that this new normal results in loss of freedom to move as we are accustomed. A worry of loss of freedom is shown by some in protests as they manage frustrations about the continuation of lock-down: Many feel betrayed by the government for reasons related to resolution of COVID-related life complications and sense that the unknown surrounding the virus is driving this loss. 

Another is certainly routine. Routines are comforting for some, and so the loss of that regularity may cause feelings of helplessness, stress, anxiety, and even some degree of panic. It may be well worth pausing to reflect on how we can manage these changes. We may even want to see loss of freedom and routine as a way to gain a certain type of freedom: Have we been given a gift in the form of relief from our usual routines and given a new way to look at the way we work, plan, eat, create, exercise, transact, and interact? Maybe the freedom from routine is a new sort of freedom which we can use to feel empowered despite what may be seen as a loss.

Gratitude. Gratitude is now a concept studied with great interest in the field of psychology. Possibly, we can modify our feelings of loss by being mindful of the things for which we are grateful. A feeling of gratitude may help to quell the sense of loss even in the most intense situations of grief. If we have lost a loved one for any reason (say, a beloved older person who died from natural causes), we may ask “What are we grateful for here?” Perhaps we are grateful to have spent time with him, grateful we knew her so long, grateful to know others still living who have similar wonderful traits. 

When we lose intangible things, like some freedoms or comforting routines, we can ask “What are we grateful for?” We could perhaps say we are grateful for freedom to explore different ways of doing things, for opportunity to work outside of our usual “comfort zone”, grateful for a release from routine, to have freedom to move outdoors into nature in springtime weather with a new schedule to facilitate this. Or perhaps we are grateful that the concept of freedom is examined by so many people now in different ways – and grateful that we are constantly learning. Stressing the opportunity to reflect and find opportunities to be grateful in this new normal reminds us that even in this awkwardness there are blessings.

Be well.
 – Charley Rowe, of the Health and Wellness Ministry at Holy Cross 

Resources and sources:


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