Marsha Raynes, LCSW and Diane Halivni, MSEd
As we reshape our lives and navigate a new normal, we feel the impact of this current pandemic on our emotional well-being. Collectively, we are all feeling loss during this challenging and uncertain time. Schedules are upended, schools and businesses have moved online, and our essential workers are putting their own health and safety at risk to help others. There is compounded stress on families caring for loved ones who have become ill or who are facing job loss and financial and food insecurity among other consequences no one could have predicted. This is a hard time for all of us, and we can expect feelings of grief when we experience any type of loss.
For the person experiencing a loss, it is real, and cannot be minimized, or compared to another’s loss. We should acknowledge the feelings that young people are having about changes to their expected activities and milestones, as well as toward the graduations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings and other life cycle events we looked forward to celebrating this season. These are some of the real hopes that we must accept will not take place in the same way we imagined.
We also acknowledge those in our community who have suffered a personal loss due to a death of a loved one before the pandemic whose grief is still fresh, others who have been bereaved during the pandemic and have been unable to mourn in traditional ways, as well as those who are tragically losing loved ones to this terrible illness, COVID-19.
JCFS Chicago is here to offer support to you during this turbulent time, and we invite you to process your grief and loss, so that you can move through the pain you are feeling and find comfort.
Here are some coping strategies for processing grief and loss during this difficult time:
- Acknowledge your feelings and loss(es). Give yourself permission to grieve.
- Remember, there is no one right way to grieve and there is no set timeframe. Everyone’s grief journey is unique.
- Think about ways to connect with others for support that don’t require physical contact, like phone calls, emails, Zoom meet-ups and letter writing.
- Consider creative outlets to express your feelings including writing/journaling, reading, art, music, and cooking.
- Consider developing new rituals to honor and remember your loved one now while you are at home. If you wish, think about planning a future memorial service when you and your loved ones can be together.
- Stay present and make time for yourself. Take care of your physical and your mental health by maintaining a good sleep routine, eating well and try to take walks daily.
- Take one day at time. Try for some structure and balance each day. Give yourself permission to be flexible and accept what is “good enough” during this time of uncertainty. Practice self-compassion as we are all doing the best we can.
- Consider individual or pastoral counseling support, individually or in one of our grief and loss groups.
Although we need to maintain physical distancing, we can stay socially connected. At JCFS Chicago, we are offering ways to access support through the phone and online.
We have several grief support groups that are meeting virtually through Zoom. Sharing this time with others who “get it” can be a helpful opportunity to reduce isolation and find community.