Many are feeling the losses of day to day routine, visiting family and friends, days out in the sunshine and being able to plan ahead. In addition some are also trying to deal with the actual death of a loved one or the loss of a job/income.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross noticed similarities in the way people experience a grieving process and described 5 stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are not linear, we can revisit the stages when a trigger reminds us of our loss. Grief is messy and chaotic. It can’t be made better by a logical understanding of what we are going through. However, I have found that helping people normalise their unique experience of loss not only validates their experience but alleviates their fear that they are somehow going mad. One of the biggest fears for people seems to be that the pain and inner turmoil is a permanent state of being from now on. Understanding that grief is a process perhaps helps us to notice the glacially slow shifts and changes along the way.
Let’s look at how we might be experiencing the different stages during isolation:
Aside from responsive grief, another form of grief is anticipatory grief. This is based on the fear of what we might lose. The level of fear increases alongside the level of unknowns we are dealing with. If we are in lockdown with anyone else we are not only dealing with our own grief responses but theirs too. One person’s denial might be met with another’s anger.
Naming the changes in our emotional state and normalising them are the beginning of managing these challenging times. Validating our emotions and self-care are helpful also. Understanding what our secondary losses are (e.g. contact, space, identity, freedom, safety etc) can help us understand which of our needs aren’t being met just now. It’s normal to have conflicting feelings e.g. I love spending more time with my children and it’s hard.
There are many things I feel grateful for just now and hope that, in amongst the fear and uncertainty, you too are able to take mindful moments to breathe and connect with yourself.
Aileen George Counselling
Room 11 (2nd Floor)
48 Queen Street
Tel: 07748 983248