Dealing with grief during the COVID-19 pandemic

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By Lydia Winda

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another. One of its major effects is loss, which could be the loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or even the anticipatory loss of someone close to you who may have contracted the virus, loss of business, normalcy, social interactions, freedom, and predictable future among other issues.

Grief takes five stages, according to the Kubler-Ross model. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is important to acknowledge that the stages are not fixed, they may or may not occur following the order above, some people may not experience all the stages while others experience all, some experience specific stages multiple times while others only once or never.

How to cope with loss and grief during the pandemic

Acknowledge and accept all your feelings. Acknowledge the pain and the loss then allow yourself to go through the pain and give yourself time to recover. Do not rush, recover at your own speed. Denying the loss does not reduce the pain, but instead lengthens the suffering.

Talk about your loss. This can help lower the burden of grief as a problem shared is half solved. You can reach out to family and friends through voice or video calls, chat, text and any other online platform.

Take stock of what is going well. Journal or write down about your strengths and good moments each day to monitor your progress. Even as you do this, be cognizant of the fact healing occurs in difference phases as described above and you move into and out of different feelings. Be aware of your triggers even as you pen down your feelings and thoughts each day. Be aware of any form of relapse.

Pay attention to the things you have control over. Stay at home as much as you can, washing your hands or sanitizing as often as is necessary, keeping social distance, eating healthy foods, exercise and maintaining a daily schedule.

Self-care. Get plenty of rest, eat regular meals even if you don’t feel like it, exercise regularly and allow yourself to be happy when you feel happy.

Reach out to helpful resources available. You can seek online counseling by sending an email to counsel@usiu.ac.ke to talk to a therapist, job advertisements online if job hunting, business ideas, spiritual support from your spiritual leaders, medical assistance in the event of health related challenges among other resources.

When to seek help

Feelings of grief are natural reactions to significant losses. If these feelings persist, your mood does not improve or worsens, or you feel unable to function and perform basic daily activities, reach out for help.

Reach out to the USIU-Africa counseling Center on counsel@usiu.ac.ke or call 0730116748 to talk to a therapist.

Adopted from Psychology Today
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-and-sex-in-the-digital-age/202003/covid-19-and-the-grief-process

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