Grieving in Isolation: Surviving the Process in COVID
No matter what type of loss you experience, or what season of life you are in when grief walks in your door, grief and loss are all consuming. For so many people, community, connection and time are the main tools to help you walk through trauma and loss.
But what does this all look like in this crazy year of 2020? After losing someone or something that you love, the world feels like it collapses under your feet. In an effort to find some routine after your loss, it is so normal to seek out the predictable and to pursue something constant. While normal life can feel like a weird clashing of realities after loss, there can also be something stabilizing and calming about normal activities.
All this to say, if you’ve lost someone you love this year, your grieving process has been anything but normal. And although there is no perfect way to grieve during COVID, if you need some guidance and tips on how to cope with your loss in this strange season of isolation, we’ve compiled a list of ideas from our community on how they are coping this year.
Acknowledge that while we are all in this together, we don’t all experience this era of collective grief the same.
I have noticed a common theme among friends and family who have experienced grief the same. And this theme is mostly centered around the slogan of 2020 – we’re all in this together. Because while this is true in so many ways and can be so effective at bringing unity, the reality is that this era of isolation has not affected us all the same.
For so many grievers, this experience of collective grief during COVID is a strange and clashing moment. Because for so many people, losing a loved one during COVID has encompassed a cruel and heartbreaking series of other related losses.
As a small business who works to support grieving people, we have heard so many stories. We have heard countless stories of families saying goodbye to their loved ones on FaceTime, on cell phones held up by selfless nurses. We have heard of young and healthy people who enter the hospital on a Thursday, only to pass away on a Sunday. We have heard of mothers miscarrying their loved babies in a hospital bed, totally alone, only supported by their spouses through notes held up through exterior hospital windows.
So yes, there is absolutely so much collective loss this year. But at the same time, if you have lost a loved one or experienced trauma this year, give yourself grace. You have experienced your loss during a time in history where all the normal ways you would cope with your grief are not available. It is SO normal that you would struggle more than normal. You are not crazy – you’re grieving during COVID-19.
Embrace this amazing digital era, but still find ways to nurture your soul
Like so many people, I have leaned heavily on social media to help keep my relationships close this year. And while I’m beyond thankful for technology for helping us through this crazy time in history, I know that sometimes social media connections don’t fully encompass what we need in times of grief.
If you’ve noticed that time on social media seems to be pouring gasoline on the fire of your grief, you’re not alone. So often our brief and impersonal interactions on social media can make us feel even more alone. And if you’re grieving, that reality can feel beyond tragic.
If you’re finding yourself struggling with isolation during COVID, try leaning on smaller live connections like Zoom or FaceTime. Although they are no replacement for in person support, a live connection with a friend can do wonders if you’re feeling alone in your loss.
Let go of your expectations
For months, it seemed like everyone around me had picked up a new hobby with all their free time and extra energy after COVID closures. And while I was so happy for them, I felt so many moments of comparison with my own moments of struggle. Even for me, as someone who did not experience any major loss during this season, it was hard not to compare! So many friends and family who did lose a loved one this year have shared how much they have struggled not to feel like a failure when they consider the expectations they had for themselves.
If this is you this year, I want to encourage you to lower your expectations. Reimagining a new and different future for yourself is a horrible reality of loss. It feels even more jarring when it’s being done in 2020. So give yourself tons of grace, let go of the expectations you hold of yourself, and know a community of people see what you are going through.
We would love to hear your thoughts about ways that you have coped with your grief during COVID. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!