How To Cope With Grieving The Loss Of Your Personal Life Due To The Pandemic
It’s strange to think that 2020 started just like any other year. Tons of people crammed shoulder to shoulder in Times Square, crowded arena sports, hand-holding, and a fairly mild usage of hand sanitizer. Since March of last year, it’s as if we’ve been forced into an alternate reality. It’s not just the mandatory readjustment to this new normal, but the rapidity with which it was thrust upon us. During this pandemic, we’ve all experienced loss in our personal life. That loss could be the passing of a loved one, the loss of a job or stable income, or even watching your hopes and dreams come to a complete standstill. We are all grieving parts of the life we once had, as well as parts we’d hoped to have.
Recognizing The Grief In Our Personal Life
Loss is loss. Someone being divorced from their job, social life, or sense of security in their everyday life, can hit just as hard as actual death. In light of this fact, comparison and judgment are two major things we need to avoid during this time. It’s vital not to assume someone else’s loss is greater or less than our own. Doing this can lead to an endless cycle of wondering if our grief is justified, or if we’re grieving “appropriately”. Grief, as with all emotions, is subjective. How you grieve your losses is your business and your right.
Strategies For Coping With The Grief
Whether you have come to accept the things that have transpired or you’re still in utter disbelief, here’s a few science-backed strategies to help you work through these tough times.
Admit That You’re Grieving Your Personal Life
You know that silly theory about smiling at yourself in the mirror for ten seconds to cheer yourself up? It’s been long debunked by science. In order to work through your emotions, you first have to allow yourself to feel them. Plus, even if that trick was a legitimate quick fix, what’s so wrong with being bummed out? Remember, you have every right to feel depressed, angry, and confused. The only thing that is not okay is staying in these states forever.
Trying to convince ourselves of our own happiness while stifling negative emotions can lead to serious mental and physical health problems. The first step to any sort of recovery is always admission. This does not necessarily mean you have fully accepted the things that have happened. Rather, it means that you are willing to admit you have been deeply affected by them. Give yourself permission to feel your emotions, knowing that they are all completely valid so you can begin moving forward from there.
On those days when you’re feeling extra down, taking out a journal and scribbling down a few things you’re grateful for may feel like a chore. It may even seem like a total waste of time. Neuroscience, however, contradicts this. A 2017 study showed that adopting a single daily gratitude practice such as writing a letter of gratitude, making a gratitude list, or simply taking time out for a short prayer of thanks, greatly improved overall mental health and positivity when done consistently. It can be difficult to focus on the positive when it seems like all that surrounds you is either negative or uncertain. However, starting small is key. If you’re reading this right now, you’ve made it this far in life. That’s one thing we can all be grateful for.
Adopt A Practice Of Self Care In Your Life
Quarantine taught many of us the value of solitude. We were given a bit of time to rest, relax, and get reacquainted with ourselves. In recent years, “self care” has become such a widely-used phrase, it’s almost lost its meaning. Almost. However, self care goes deeper than pouring yourself a glass of wine and hoping your life improves.
It is the art of remembering yourself and what makes you feel good, independent of what’s going on with the rest of the world. If you’re still in the process of grieving your pre-pandemic personal life, treat yourself as you would treat a grieving friend. Run yourself a warm aromatherapy bath, make yourself a healthy meal, watch a favorite feel-good film, and get some rest. You are the single most important part of your personal life. Don’t let the grief of your past take up too much of your future.
Take A Positive Look Forward
No matter how hard we try, there is no way to go back before the pandemic and accomplish everything that we wanted to accomplish. There’s also no way to go back and prevent it from happening altogether. Bearing this in mind, we really have no choice but to look ahead. Taisha Caldwell-Harvey, Ph.D., founder of the Black Girl Doctor, explained in an interview with Vice how setting realistic plans and goals for ourselves gives us motivation to keep going. “There’s a really cheesy reference, but if you dangle a carrot in front of someone, they’re going to move a little faster,” Caldwell-Harvey states.
While fear and stress can also act as motivators, you reap what you sow. Positivity-driven actions lead to positive outcomes. Instead of making grandiose plans like we’re used to doing, take into consideration what’s possible right this moment. Make a list of fun things you’d like to try this week. Not all goals have to be five or ten years into the future. Believe that you still have a greater purpose to serve, and begin moving forward one step at a time.
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