Grief in the time of Covid

Jane Wang, LMFT, is one of our clinicians at Life Focus Center, Inc. She has put together some points of interest to share with you that she gained from a recent workshop. If you are going through grief, you are mourning, and/or experiencing loss, this article may be helpful to you.

Jane writes:

After attending a workshop called “Going Beyond Survival in a Pandemic: Providing Care and Sanity for Grievers” by Debi Jenkins Frankle, the speaker helped explained the types, symptoms, and theories regarding grief or loss. Here are some points that may be helpful to you on your journey:

Grief is a natural and normal response to any type of loss. Grief is rooted from the Anglo-French word grief meaning injustice or heaviness. Grief is the internal meaning given to the experience of loss. Some types of grief are:

  1. Hidden Grief: those types of losses that are not recognized as being valid to grieve.

  2. Anticipatory Grief: a feeling of grief occurring before an impending loss.

  3. Disenfranchised Grief: often minimized or misunderstood by others, making it difficult to process and work through.

  4. Invisible Loss: suicide, drug overdose, homicide loss, historical/unresolved loss, LGBTQ+, or infertility/miscarriage.

  5. Complicated Grief: sudden and unexpected death, death of a child, loss of a codependent relationship, history of mood disorder, co-existing personality disorder, or history of abuse

Mourning is how you express your grief externally. There is no right or only way to mourn. Mourning may involve religious beliefs or rituals. So many times people have expressed to us having had comments made to them which, although well-intentioned, make the person more upset. Comments such as, “She’s in a better place.” “It’s for the best.” We may know that, and we don’t need anyone to try to erase our grief/loss by those seemingly dismissive comments. The one comment we should make is “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Loss is related to but is different than grief. Loss is a change or an end in a relationship as well as a change or an end in a familiar pattern of behavior. There can be a loss of family, health, identity, safety, home, or pandemic. There is also the ripple effect of secondary losses.

If you have experienced loss at any time in your life – it comes to all of us sooner or later – you may recognize the symptoms below. Sometimes recognizing symptoms we have or have had helps us to understand ourselves better rather than to think something may be wrong with us. The symptoms include:

  1. Cognitive symptoms: shock, numbness, poor attention span, easily distracted, and poor memory.

  2. Physical symptoms: exhaustion, appetite/weight changes, muscle tension, easily startled, paralysis, shortness of breath, headaches, broken heart syndrome, gastro-intestinal irritations, nausea, immune system illnesses, and sleeping problems.

  3. Emotional symptoms: fear (anxiety and panic), yearning (lonely and abandoned), vulnerable/unsafe (helpless and powerless), anger, relieved, guilty, numb, and sad. These include involuntary autobiographical memories and grief triggers.

  4. Spiritual symptoms: occurs when a person is no longer able to find meaning, comfort, or connections in life.

  5. Social symptoms: hypersensitive and hyper-aware to loss, feeling dependent on others, withdrawn and isolated, and low frustration tolerance or easily agitated.

In order to help yourself, understand that you will experience good and bad moments, it’s a rocking road. Self- care is essential. We all know that includes a balanced routine of diet, exercise, and sleep, and yet, you may have difficulty doing the things you need when going through tough time. Understand that you may become easily overwhelmed. Try not to ignore or deny your feelings. Give yourself a time-out or break.

Talk to people who understand, who do not try to make light of your situation, nor to turn it around and make it all about them and the losses they have experienced. Seeking out counseling at this time may be very useful to you since you can be sure of talking to someone who will listen, understand, and not make it about him/herself.

If we can help you through a difficult time, we are here to help

Please give us a call now at 626-330-7990.