By Licensed Counselor, Danny Churchill, LSW
We are several months in to a pandemic, our lives have become more challenging and unpredictable than any of us could have imagined. It has resulted in cancelled plans, social gatherings going virtual and a number of other things we have had to adjust to. It is also possible you have lost someone or know someone who has lost someone due to COVID-19. When a loss is experienced, no matter the type, a grieving process follows.
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross describes grief as happening in five stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These five stages do not always occur in a linear pattern, which means you may have felt each of these in a different order than they are listed in or even at the same time. Let’s look at how each stage pertains to grief we have experienced resulting from COVID-19.
This may be the most common stage we have found ourselves in. In our lifetime, a majority of us (if not all of us) likely did not anticipate that we would experience a global pandemic. It seems unfathomable that things like a statewide stay-at-home order would exist or that nearly all jobs would require remote work. The impact of this pandemic has been hard to accept.
It’s likely we have felt angry with our spouse, children, parents or whomever we have lived with through the duration of the pandemic. We have been forced to spend much more time together, in close proximity, than we are accustomed to. Personal space has been at a premium in some households. This virus has also uprooted our “normal” lives without us knowing much about it. Having a lack of information can incite many negative emotions, anger being among those.
If any of us have spent time wishing that things would just go “back to normal”, then we have found ourselves in the bargaining stage. Things going back to the way they were before the pandemic seems unrealistic at the current state of the virus.
Feelings of worthlessness and isolation are the hallmarks of depression. These feelings have run rampant throughout our society in the midst of this pandemic. We have had to accept virtual hangouts being a surrogate for face-to-face interactions. We have had to adjust to working from home without the possibility of having regular interaction with coworkers or receiving feedback from supervisors. Even leaving the house these days requires more effort than we are accustomed to.
After all of the challenges and negative emotions that have come along with the pandemic, we have to come to a point where we have no choice but to accept the reality of the situation we are faced with. COVID-19 exists and we cannot ignore that fact. We have a new and hopefully temporary normal that we must learn to live in.
It is possible that you have progressed through these stages already, maybe you are experiencing them now or perhaps you haven’t even begun to process this. If you are struggling with the effects of this pandemic, this framework may be a start for you to begin sorting through the feelings you are dealing with. No matter what you may be experiencing, Anchorpoint’s family counseling services can help reassure that your feelings are real and are meant to be experienced.
To learn about the coping strategies you can use to deal with this new grief you are or may be experiencing, visit https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-grief-in-the-age-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-4801931 or if you feel like you can’t cope, call us at 412-366-1300 or complete our Digital Intake form to take the first step towards affordable counseling today!