Grief can be one of the most isolating experiences we are faced with in our lifetimes, even under “normal” circumstances. However, this historical moment that we find ourselves in is far from normal. As we are being asked to socially distance ourselves from our family, friends, and other support systems it becomes increasingly important that we find a way to connect with others as we grieve.
Below are some ideas for finding connection and support during social isolation:
1. Connecting with others
Grief is not an experience that one easily navigates, much less on our own. During this time of pain and healing, consider your support network. There is no shame in relying on our support systems when we are struggling. You are not a burden to those around you and it is ok to lean on them for support. Do you have a friend or family member that you feel you can be open and honest with? Maybe even more than one? This is a truly valuable resource to you.
· Reach out to your support person/people—video chat, write letters or cards, talk on the phone. Having someone to talk to about your thoughts, feelings, and experience, someone that will truly listen, is invaluable person to have in your life.
For those whose support systems may be limited or who don’t feel comfortable relying on family or friends for support, consider connecting to online grief support platforms. Many support services have adapted to online platforms to ensure those that need support now are receiving it.
· Consider connecting to a therapist, grief counselor, or online bereavement community to connect with others that understand the experience of grief.
· The Frederick Grief Support Network is providing a multitude of services including individual counseling by phone or video conferencing platforms, almost daily support groups via Zoom and free access to grief forums where you can connect with other grieving people.
2. Connecting with yourself
While grieving, we may feel more disconnected from ourselves and our needs than we have ever before. What’s more, maybe the skills or habits that we have previously used to care for ourselves seem like they are no longer effective because the pain that we are feeling surpasses anything we’ve ever experienced. Grief often asks us to move our awareness within ourselves to find new and different ways of caring for ourselves. The prioritization our self and our needs may feel selfish or unfamiliar, but it is absolutely necessary as we heal from the emotional wound created by loss.
During this time, consider finding pleasurable activities for yourself and make it a point to engage in them intentionally. These activities could include anything that helps you recharge, restore, or express yourself. It’s not uncommon for grieving people to shy away from finding pockets of joy or relief in the midst of pain. How can you possible feel joy or prioritize your needs during one of the most painful experiences of your life? However it is possibly and can serve as an incredibly healing and restorative space for us to create during one of our greatest times of need.
· Consider activities such as gardening, cooking, creating art, journaling/writing, yoga/meditation, playing or listening to music, or even simply getting some good rest.
· Check out Frederick Grief Support Network’s blog and One Small Thing page for daily ideas for way to connect with and care for yourself during this difficult time.
3. Connecting with the person that you lost
Finding ways to continue the connection between yourself and the person you’ve lost may be one of the most necessary parts of the healing process. Grief exists because love does: it is the natural extension of the love we shared with the person we lost; but when death occurs, we no longer have a place to send that love. Death does not represent the end of your love for your special person, but it certainly changes it. Figuring out what to do with that change is one of the most important steps to healing.
Finding connection to our loved ones who have died is a process, one that takes time and can be painful because it asks us to first accept the reality of their death. Honor your process and know that in time you will find ways to stay connected to your loved one that feel significant and meaningful to you.
· Wear their favorite color, sport team logo, t-shirt, or piece of jewelry.
· Find symbolism in the world around you. Consider things that remind you of your special person. Did they love airplanes? Trees? Flowers or gardening? Every time you see these things it can feel as though your special person is close by.
· Take time to remember your loved one’s personality, your favorite memories together, their accomplishments, or their love and caring. Write about it or share these memories with others that knew and loved them. Consider posting a photo to Frederick Grief Support Network’s Remembrance Wall as a way to honor, remember and memorialize your special person.
As an old proverb so wisely states, “grief shared is grief halved.” For many finding connection, support, and community during this time can represent a powerful shift from suffering towards healing. As you explore how to best support yourself and find connection during this time, it's important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve." Each person’s grief is unique and as such, your healing journey will be unique. Remember that you are not alone in this experience and that the support is out there whenever you feel ready to receive it.