It seems like, in an instant, everything changed – and for most of us, it did. Many of us are working from home, or unable to work, and are practicing social distancing, or even self-isolating. Schools and businesses are closed. Entire shelves in stores are empty. Many of us are anxiously watching the news and struggling to think about things besides the coronavirus; worrying about how and when this will end, and life can return to “normal.”
For those of us who are grieving, it is not the first time that we have felt like everything changed in an instant. And though this time is difficult for everyone, for the bereaved, there are special challenges that make this time even harder.
Many of us who are grieving may feel very worried about something happening to our surviving loved ones. We may feel that our already overwhelming anxiety and sadness have quadrupled. We might feel like there’s not space to grieve, or to talk about our grief, with everything else that’s going on. We may be battling morbid thoughts. Probably most of us are longing for the comfort of our loved one – wishing we could talk to them right now, that they were here with us. We might feel like the entire world has been turned upside down, once again.
Grief under any circumstances can make us feel isolated and totally alone. It is easy to feel cut off from our family and friends, and like no one understands what we are going through. Grief and loneliness often go hand-in-hand. Yet, we know that social and emotional isolation can compound grief, and make it even more difficult to heal – indeed, isolation can even contribute to complicated, or “unhealthy” grief.
How, then, can we grieve healthily in a time of social distancing and quarantines, when many of us are literally cut off from our families and friends? It can be difficult, but try to find a balance between focusing on your grief and distracting yourself. Get outside if you can. Take deep breaths. Try to get some exercise, like gentle stretching, an online yoga class, or a walk. Drink plenty of water, eat regular meals, and try to get enough rest. Now can also be a great time to experiment with journaling about your grief (we will be posting some prompts soon), or making a collage or other artwork related to your grief.
Perhaps most importantly: continue reaching out for support. Call and email your friends and family. Or call us: the grief counselors at Frederick Health Hospice are still providing private counseling by phone, and are exploring other options to continue providing grief support.
Call 240-566-3030 to be connected with one of our counselors, and continue to check our website and Facebook page for updates, links to resources, and tips on how to care for yourself and manage your grief during the coming weeks. Please know that even in these uncertain and lonely times, you are not alone; we are here for you.