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Struggling with GRIEF in its many shapes and forms (April 2020)

GRIEF, THE LOSS OF THE LIFESTYLE we once had, our family SECURITY and the FEAR of how we will cope in the future is something that is affecting many of our community during this period of social distancing, isolation and job losses due to COVID-19.

Grief is the direct result of loss or change and it is a natural part of human development.

Grief is the internal reaction to loss.

This loss is not only felt from the death of a loved one, it can also come from many other areas including divorce, relocation, job loss, chronic or terminal illness and yes, even COVID-19.

If you have lost someone close to you from this pandemic, you may be suffering a range of feelings, especially if you were not able to be with that person in their final days.

It has been an unprecedented time, with only 10 people allowed to attend funerals, restricted visits to the elderly in care homes and in some cases no visiting to those in hospital.

If you are struggling with the parallel effects of COVID-19; the isolation, the social distancing the loss of financial security, you might also be finding it hard to explain your feelings to your friends and family.

So many emotions are bombarding us through this challenging time and dealing with them can be very difficult.

What should we look out for?

Often our emotions include symptoms of depression, low mood, lack of enthusiasm, poor sleep patterns and feelings of anxiety or fear.

Sometimes the sense of “loss” takes time to develop and at first it doesn’t actually feel real.

You may even be in “denial”, that in fact, this is all a “bad dream” and it hasn’t really happened.

But, as reality sets in and you find yourself living within these new set of rules, or without a job, or compromised income, you may also find yourself suffering from waves of anger, more disbelief and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.

This can cause even mild-mannered individuals to strike out, verbally or even physically, at those close to them.

If this resonates with you, please reach out to a friend, communicate with your partner or talk to a qualified counsellor.

The “five stages” of grief described by Elizabeth Kübler Ross may help you recognise any of the distinctive feelings you are experiencing.

These feelings may come in any order and in any strength, and sometimes simply knowing that these feelings and emotions are natural can help you identify why you are feeling the way you do.

DENIAL: The shock and numbness of what has happened, disbelief.

ANGER: The inward anger or outward outbursts.

BARGAINING: Desperation to find an alternative solution, why did this happen to me?

DEPRESSION: The feeling that everything is lost, or even despair.

ACCEPTANCE: Acknowledgement of the current situation, acceptance of the loss.

FEAR may also be a direct result of your loss; fear about the future, how you will cope, how your family will cope.

Fear of losing your home or your lifestyle.

Fear is a natural human reaction, but it can negatively impact our thinking or decision making and it is important to recognise that this fear may make you susceptible to unbalanced emotions.

Even though these emotions are a natural result of this very unusual circumstance, they are not helpful when trying to find a solution to the new situation in which you find yourself.

It is important to discover ways to bring some balance back into your life.

Try and find some positives out of the negatives; embrace the opportunity to cultivate deeper relationships with your family or with friends; change direction or do an online course to enhance your qualifications and future employability.

While the Government is bringing in support for many people who have found themselves in a compromised position, this financial support may not be considered enough by some and it will take time for adjustment.

You may even feel undervalued or undermined.

In some cases it will be far less than what you are normally accustomed to living on.

Others may find that they have fallen between the cracks and this can be extremely distressing, increasing the sense of fear about the future.

It is important to get informed advice about your rights and eligibility for support.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH is paramount, without a clear head, it is very difficult to navigate the path ahead.

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