More Americans are experiencing loss in the pandemic; care and understanding of how we grieve can make the path less lonely
More than 163,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, leaving behind family and friends struggling with the pain of loss.
For every person who dies of COVID-19, nine close family members are affected, according to a new study on the pandemic’s toll on grieving family members. The research estimates 1.7 million Americans will be grieving close family members by the end of August due to the pandemic.
Even for people who have not lost family members or friends, this has been a time of loss. People are grieving lost jobs, lost time with family and friends, lost celebrations such as graduations, and loss of “normal” life.
Grief is a natural reaction to losing a loved one in a close relationship. Grief can follow any kind of profound loss, such as the loss of an opportunity, a job, or any dream you’ve held dear.
Grief is both an emotion and a process — a series of feelings and experience that one goes through after any kind of significant loss. Every person and situation is different, and we all experience grieving in our own way.
There is no timeline for healing from grief. Some people process their feelings and are able to resume a regular routine relatively quickly, while for others, grieving is a prolonged journey.
In addition to the loss of a loved one or a pet, events that can stir feelings of grief include:
- Divorce or breakup
- A child grows up or leaves home
- Aging (you or a loved one)
- Caring for a loved one who is aging or struggling
- Giving up on a dream
- A change in your beliefs
- Moving into a new stage of life
- Loss of identity
The five stages of grief identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; yet grief is rarely straightforward and often confusing. Here are some things to keep in mind if you or someone you care about is mourning a loss:
1. A little denial can be healthy. Denial is often our first reaction when confronted with loss. The more profound the loss, the more difficult it may be for us to grasp that that it has happened. Denial may be a way that our subconscious mind tries to cushion the blow of grief, to help us prepare for the difficult feelings to come. You may find yourself experiencing disbelief long after a loss, however getting stuck in denial for a long period of time can be a sign of unhealthy grief.
2. Beware signs of unhealthy grief. These may include fatigue, brain fog, irritability or unexplained pain or illness. While it is not unusual to feel intense, unrelenting despair over the loss of a loved one, severe depression or suicidal thoughts are warning signs that you should seek professional help immediately. We may never fully “get over” a profound loss, but we can grow to a point of accepting the loss. Sometimes however, we are unable to fully process the intense emotions surrounding loss. More about that to come.
3. Watch (and observe) your thoughts and feelings. You may feel at times that your grief is insurmountable — like you’ll never be happy again. When this happens, you can become overwhelmed by the emotions of loss. During these times, mindfulness exercises may help you to detach from the intensity of your feelings and observe them like passing clouds. Then you can find a replacement thought such as “I’m going to be okay” or “This is normal.”
4. Go easy on yourself. Let yourself fully experience all your emotions. Love yourself with proper self-care. Eat nourishing food and get proper rest. Make future plans (if appropriate) to help you move forward.
5. Don’t try to rush grief. The pain of grief can be so intense that it feels like it will never end. You may think you’re done, but then experience more intense pain. Understand that this is normal.
For some people, grief becomes deeply internalized. Like other powerful emotions, grief can literally become trapped in the body, where it may persist years after a loss, casting a veil over our happiness and relationships, and even affecting our physical health.
One of the most important thing you can do for yourself or a loved one suffering from grief or other Trapped Emotions is to take steps to release the emotional baggage. Energy healing modalities such as The Emotion Code® are designed to help people identify and get rid of emotional energies that can remain after difficult and traumatic events. For the person who has suffered from prolonged grief, that does not mean they will never again feel sad when they think of their loss. It does mean that the emotion of grief may no longer color and overlay their existence. The Emotion Code is a simple way of removing the intensity from the emotional event so that it no longer takes such a toll on your life.
Are you feeling grief and prolonged sadness months or years after suffering a loss? Does life seem hopeless, as if all the emotions you used to feel have gone from a rainbow of color to shades of gray? These are signs that you may be suffering from Trapped Emotions. The Emotion Code is simple enough that anyone can learn it. You can use it alone or on your loved ones and friends, or find someone trained in The Emotion Code to help you. Since it is a form of energy healing, it can even be used from a distance.
As people move through grief, they may find their role or identity has changed or been lost. As you begin rebuilding, remember what about you has not changed — who you are at your core.
Grief can be a teacher. It can show what you are how much you love or care, and that you are strong and capable of handling hard things. Don’t rush to redefine yourself. Use this time as an opportunity for rebirth and carefully and consciously create a new reality for your life.