The unexpected loss of a loved one is heart-wrenching, even when it's not during a global pandemic. But it can be worse when mass gatherings such as funerals or memorial services are being discouraged due to COVID-19. These rituals help us work through difficult emotions, and without them, the grieving process may feel incomplete or lacking.
Moreover, whether or not the death was COVID-related, your feelings of shock and sadness may overlap with pandemic-related fear or anxiety, which can feel overwhelming. As you move through this difficult time, it's crucial to give yourself time and space to grieve. These suggestions may help.
Own Your Feelings
Realize that your emotions are valid, even if they feel all over the place. Grief is a time of intense emotions, which can be unpredictable. Recognize that this is natural. And don't compare your grieving process to anyone else's. How you feel or react to the loss of a loved one is very personal.
Sudden loss is shocking and difficult for our brains to comprehend. When a loved one dies suddenly, under difficult or unusual circumstances, as is happening with COVID-19 deaths, the tendency to get caught up in imagining alternative scenarios is ever stronger. This can be not easy to grapple with, but it's a natural part of the healing process.
Trust that you eventually will find acceptance. The best ways to find it are to:
- Act in ways that are consistent with important personal values or deeply held interests.
- Believe in your ability to face and meet important life challenges competently.
- Nurture a sense of belonging and mattering in the world.
Be compassionate with yourself and with others who are also mourning the loss. Grief is a process. Keep putting one foot in front of the other as we you work through it.