While most people think of grief in response to a death, it is common to experience grief after any type of loss. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing grief due to the loss of our routines, jobs, friends and families, ideas of safety, and much more.
Grief is a normal part of the human experience, however, COVID has created the opportunity for an overwhelming amount of grieving jammed into a very short amount of time. Even if these losses have not impacted you directly, it can be traumatic to witness the people we love and care about lose their jobs and begin to fear their health and safety.
Kubler-Ross’s Five Stage Model of Grief
There are several theories that attempt to understand and explain the grieving process, one of the more commonly used models is the Kubler-Ross’s five stage model of grief. This model can be used to understand our grief surrounding the recent changes to the world as we knew it.
The five stages are:
- Denial: Where you might experience thoughts such as “this can’t be happening to me”
- Anger: “Why is this happening to me”?
- Bargaining: “Make this not happen and in turn I will _______”
- Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything about this”
- Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what has happened”.
Grief can be unpredictable with good days and bad day and is not a linear process. We can revisit stages from the Kubler-Ross model several times before the grief process is complete. One of the best ways to move through the grief process is accepting each stage as it comes and processing your feelings and thoughts with a support person or therapist who can hold space for you. It is important to try not to avoid or suppress the feelings as this may lead to delays in the grief healing process.
Common Symptoms of Grief
Grief is also multifaceted and can be experienced through many different types of symptoms such as physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Some of the most common symptoms of grief can be found below:
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Questioning the Purpose of Life
- Questioning Your Spiritual Beliefs (e.g., your belief in God)
- Feelings of Detachment
- Isolation from Friends and Family
- Abnormal Behavior
- Loss of Appetite
- Aches and Pains
Helpful Ways to Cope with Grief
It is okay and natural to experience these emotions in response to the unforeseen changes in our world. Grieving is an individualized experience and is not considered an illness. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, however there are some helpful ways to cope.
If possible, use technology to regularly connect with a support person who can hold space for you. Isolation can increase feelings of grief, despair and sadness. Creating a schedule of when you will call or virtually check in can be helpful in keeping yourself accountable.
Draw comfort from your faith through a ritual or spiritual activity that you enjoy such as praying, meditating, or finding an online church service.
Join an online support group to increase social support such as Healgrief.org. nami.org, or remind.org.
Engage in active activities that bring you joy or comfort. Some suggestions include solving a puzzle, reading a book you like, gardening, or going for a walk. If you are struggling to think of fun socially distant activities, now might be an opportunity to engage in a hobby you’ve always wanted try but have never had the time to do so because of work or a busy social schedule.
Here at the Hope and Healing Center, we are dedicated to helping you any way we can. Please call the our free Houston Hope Line at 832-831-PEER (7337) available: Monday – Sunday, 5PM – 8PM if you have any questions about coping with grief during COVID-19 or would like help obtaining mental health care.
Gregory, Christina. The Five Stages of Grief An Examination of the Kubler-Ross Model
Liz Hughes, LPC Liz Hughes is a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology graduate from the University of Houston. Before commencing her graduate studies at the University of Houston, Liz received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Texas State University.
Hope and Healing Center & Institute (small but linking to original blog on HHCI’s page)