Today perhaps more than any other time in history grief is being talked about throughout our country. The global pandemic has introduced grief into our everyday conversations. No longer is grief a term used exclusively to describe the feeling of sorrow after the death of a loved one. Grief is being used to name collective experiences of loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a climate where unemployment rates began to skyrocket, school moved from the classroom to the dining room, social distancing became the norm, and racial tensions came to the forefront, we as a nation have learned to name grief.
Perhaps you are more familiar with grief in the conventional sense of the word. Maybe your grief is a result of being unable provide care for loved one, hold their hand as they took their last breath, and were not given the opportunity to gather, honor, and remember their life. You might find yourself grieving the death of a person you loved during a time where circumstances have made it impossible to receive support by ways of hugs, casseroles, and visits from friends and family.
Whatever circumstances brought you to this place of grief, you may be searching for connection, ways to create meaning, or learning how to care for yourself in a world filled with uncertainly.
The “new normal”
As our country has begun the process of opening up, a popular phrase coined long ago by mourners has been adopted to describe the world in which we are now living, “the new normal”. One thing that the pandemic and grieving the death of a loved one have in common is that this is not the normal anyone would have chosen. Years ago, in a grief group a women shared her frustration as friends and family encouraged her to “find her new normal”. They encouraged her to take up hobbies, get a pet, and consider downsizing her home. After several moments of silence she stated, “the new normal sucks.” Nothing about grief and life without your loved one feels normal.
People often describe they feel like they are in an alternate universe or walking around in a fog. Routines that once served as anchors are no longer necessary. Chores your partner once did, are now yours to do. Television shows you enjoyed together, now bring tears.
As you care for yourself during this time consider the following….
Choose a time to get quiet and check in with yourself. This could look like setting a timer and writing in a journal, making a list, meditating, praying, or walking in nature. Take a moment to intentionally feel what is happening inside of you and name it.
People often describe they feel like they are in an alternate universe or walking around in a fog.
Take a break from the news, social media posts, or limit interactions with people who bring negativity into your life.
Self Care for Mind, Body, Soul
Mind: Exercise, yoga, meditation, or prayer relax your body, increase your energy levels and clear your mind.
Body: Feeding and resting your body are necessary. Although your appetite and sleep habits may be different for awhile, you need to attempt to feed your body with the nutrients it requires to keep you healthy. You need rest to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. If this seems difficult on your own, please consider talking to your health professional to get their advice, as they know your health considerations best.
Soul: Engaging in creative activities like drawing, woodworking, cooking, dancing, writing, sewing, coloring, quiet our minds and allows our inner voice to grow and heal.
Part of grief is taking the time to reflect on the life you had with your loved one and the life that is now. Give yourself grace as you try on new ways to care for yourself, new schedules and new hobbies. Know that there will be failures and successes. Remember that grief is unique and that there is no right path through. In all things, be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend. You deserve that.
Contact Unity Hospice at 800-990-9249 to speak with a grief counselor or visit our website here to learn more about how we can support you. Thanks to generous community donations, Unity’s grief counseling services are offered to the public at no charge.
This blog post was shared by Michelle Miller and Cheryl Skenandore, Grief Counselors at Unity Hospice.
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