Updated on 04/14/2020, 2:00 PM EST
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our lives in a variety of ways. We are adapting to wearing masks in public, social distancing and working in a virtual environment.
We may find ourselves frustrated at the lack of everyday supplies, angry that an internet connection keeps dropping out, concerned about our health and/or overwhelmed with the challenges of managing our children’s virtual school.
In a posting on the NPR blog, “Shots,” writer Stephanie O’Neill interviews health care professionals who explore another emotion we are probably feeling: the emotion of grief.
Coronavirus and Grief
Most people think of grief as the emotions they feel when they lose a loved one.
But we can also experience grief in other situations, especially those situations that are postponed or canceled due to coronavirus social distancing measures. This could include events such as Seder dinner, Easter brunch, high school and college graduations, family vacations, weddings and funerals.
We can be grieving both the life we used to have and the uncertainty associated with the life we will have after the pandemic ends.
Physical symptoms of grief
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
- Diminished appetite
- Shortness of breath
Emotional symptoms of grief
- Confusion, irritability, anxiety
- Inability to concentrate
- Difficulty remembering or experiencing gaps in memory
- Odd or frightening dreams
ACKNOWLEDGING OUR LOSSES
According to the professionals interviewed, community-wide, we are grieving many losses, whether we can name them or not.
Social connections – no hugging, no touching, children unable to play together. This is an immediate loss that resonates for many.
At many companies, like AmeriLife, co-workers are a second family. That separation can also be a loss that we grieve.
Habits and habitats – with the pandemic, our homes have become our refuge because venturing into the outside world can be dangerous. With that, we can no longer engage in our usual routines, which can be a shock to our systems.
Assumptions and security – the coronavirus has disrupted all our assumptions about how we live our lives, and with that, our sense of security.
Sympathetic loss for others – You may not be directly impacted by a particular loss, but you can be feeling grief for others who have lost friends and family to the virus, have lost their jobs, are working at the frontlines of healthcare or can no longer visit loved ones in nursing homes.
RECOGNIZING YOUR GRIEF
Grief experts urge people to look for ways to recognize their grief and feelings in useful ways.
Communicate with others
Sharing how you feel is an important step in dealing with grief. Picking up the phone, or scheduling a video chat and sharing your feelings with a good friend or family member can be beneficial.
Remember that grief isn’t something that is solved, so avoid offering advice for anyone who shares their grief with you.
Write, create, express
Tapping into a creative outlet can help lessen your grief. Journaling can be a way to acknowledge the emotions you’re feeling.
Art therapy can be an outlet for children who don’t have the words to express how they feel or a way for teens and adults to channel their grief.
Be open to joy
Reach out to others to find joy during these challenging times. Letting joy and gratitude into your life can be an antidote to the grief you are feeling.
You may have heard of the fluid and overlapping stages of grief: anger, denial, bargaining, sadness and acceptance.
Acceptance is the step that allows you to move forward. Our reality now encompasses washing our hands frequently, keeping a safe distance from others and working virtually. By accepting that this is our new normal, we have the power to proceed.
Click here for more information on dealing with the grief associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
A Coping Resource for AmeriLife Employees
AmeriLife offers all employees and their families access to EmployeeConnect,* the company’s employee assistance program.
EmployeeConnect is available 24/7 and provides real-life support with helpful resources and confidential counseling.
With EmployeeConnect, employees can receive confidential assistance to help manage life’s challenges, including the challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
To log into EmployeeConnect:
User name: LFGsupport
Call EmployeeConnect at 888-628-4824
*EmployeeConnect is available to ALL AmeriLife employees, working 30 or more hours a week, and their dependents, whether or not they’re enrolled in the company health plan.
Clicking third-party links will open a new tab and will take you away from AmeriLife.com. AmeriLife does not control the linked sites’ content or link.