The Stages of Grief and the Pandemic
There is a saying that we are all grieving something. This grief might follow a recent loss or one that happened a long time ago but we never gave it the attention it deserved. Loss is loss. It doesn’t matter if it is a death of a loved one, including a pet, an end of friendships and romantic relationship, or even loss of job or objects with sentimental values. It can also be due to situations that occurred or even substance abuse. The current pandemic with all that follows can be labeled as a situation which requires grieving. A lot of losses have happened and continue to happen.
There have been a number of theories on how we human deal with grief. The most popular being The Five Stages of Grief, or Elizabeth Kübler-Ross model, which was developed by pioneer Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. The stages are:
These stages are very normal feelings to have and they serve unique purposes. They do not happen in order and it is not necessary to go through all of them. We can find ourselves in any of these stages and more than once. Some might only identify with 2 stages.
Our focus here will be on our general emotions of grief during the pandemic.
Note: This article does not substitute receiving professional help. Reach out to a therapist or a mental health specialist If you or someone you know is going through severe anxiety , depression or anger.
For many, the current situation can be incredibly overwhelming. Denial may be a coping mechanism that help us absorb the current situation slowly & on our time. You might experience numbness, shock, avoidance
Example of denial:
“The situation is not that bad! Everyone is just over reacting”
“This is just a conspiracy.”
“Next week everything will go back to normal.”
It is a great cover-up for other emotions such as fear and loss of control. It may appear in the form of bitterness & resentment. Anger is an active emotion and feeling so it gives us energy to actually get up and do something.
Examples of anger stage:
- Being angry at God or Higher Powers for allowing this to happen.
- Being angry that not enough effort is being made by the authorities.
- Being angry at others for not complying with safety measures
- Focusing on the consequences of lockdown. i.e. plans were postponed, loss of income…etc.
Feeling vulnerable & helpless but still hoping that things will get better & control will be regained if we made certain sacrifices that might not be relevant to the issue at hand.
Examples of bargaining stage:
- Do more good in hopes that it will all be over soon.
- “Once this is over, I will never take anything from granted”
It is a feeling of helplessness and that not will change. It is also the most accepted and known form of grief. As appose to the active energy of anger, depression is inactive so we might withdraw from life, feel numb, lose interest in things we used to enjoy. Depression may take other forms as well.
Examples of depression stage:
- Why bother?
- What’s the use to go out of the house or make any changes?
This final stage is about accepting where we are as a result of what has happened. We might start looking at opportunities and challenges, or try to make the best out the situation. We still might struggle with other emotions, thoughts and feelings but we are at a place we work with them rather than push them away. One main difference between this stage and depression is that the latter is an inactive energy so we approach life from a helpless stand. Whereas with acceptance we aware of what is going on but choose to get up and move on.
Examples of acceptance stage:
start acknowledging our emotions and feelings: “I feel anxious and that is ok.”
Believing that “it is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it”
Things We Can Do About Our Grief :
- Acknowledge your thoughts and feeling
- Practice mindful breathing
- Practice gratitude
- Avoid multitasking when possible
- Practice grounding, centering & mindfulness
- Seek professional help or join a support group
Remember, we are in this together <3