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  • Dr. Joe Novak

The Importance of Grieving During the Pandemic

As we struggle to make sense of this global health crisis, we are faced with the emotional pain of loss - loss of our usual way of life and loss of physical contact with our social village. Pieces of us have been taken away. High school and college seniors are missing out major rites of passage, like prom and graduation. Parks, movie theaters, and recreational facilities are closed. Weddings have been canceled, and many have lost their jobs, been furloughed, or are now working from home. Some are working on the front lines to care for us and others work to ensure we have food, necessary goods and services, and medications. And some of us have been touched by the cycle of life and death. Be assured, the grief and anxiety we feel right now is normal as we wrap our heads around rapid change, life style adjustment, and real danger from the virus. We are grieving the loss of what we had and what we yearn to have.

Research tells us there are five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each of us goes through the journey of grief in our own unique way. Grieving is not linear. It is a cycle. Therefore we can experience these different emotions at different moments, especially now, as we reflect on our lives and navigate without a compass setting or secure road map. We need to believe we can get through this moment, find our inner strength, and prepare for each day and what lies ahead.

The following are some helpful tools for coping with grief and loss:


  • Recognize and record what you have control over and what you do not.

  • Make room to grieve what you have lost. Allow the emotions to be there, and breathe as you begin to understand why you are feeling this way.

  • Give yourself time to feel, and permission to distract yourself with activities when you start to feel overwhelmed.

  • Accept what you can know in the moment and turn off information when you feel it is too much.

  • Focus on maintaining a routine and the things in your life that are meaningful. Plan for the moment and be keenly aware of not pushing too hard with challenging decisions right now.

  • Share how you are feeling with someone close to you that you trust. Ask them to listen and be supportive.

  • Remember this is a process that starts the moment you give yourself permission to heal.

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