How to overcome your grief ?
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Dealing with My Grief
What is it that you are feeling while this pandemic situation seems to have gone out of control? While the numbers keep going up and various restrictions on travel, working styles and even general moving out of our homes have been laid, how does that make you feel? Would you call that feeling of loss – Grief? What is it that disturbs you about the word grief? Would you be surprised if I told you that you are grieving at this moment? How do you handle grief?
Well, I am going to try to attempt to ‘normalize’ this word as much as possible – so hear me out with an open mind.
At the beginning of this year when we were still grappling with the news of the pandemic starting and almost 70% of the world went into a lockdown state. I remember thinking this is going to be just for a few weeks and then things will return to normal. Isn’t that what usually happens whenever there’s been a crisis of sorts?
Living in India we tend to deal with crisis in our own unique way – Denying it! That’s simply what most of us did and went our ways trying to make an adventure out of this experience. This explains the various posts on social media about cooking challenges, couple challenges, hobbies, etc.
It was the first time in a long time (can't even remember the last time) when we were all at home living under the same roof 24x7. We thought of it as a vacation-at-home opportunity and started promising to be more disciplined in my diet and exercise regime- well, I was going to come out of all this more disciplined than ever! I started with a vengeance thinking of how good it would feel once this is over in a couple of weeks and I resume work outside home. But as we all are painfully aware – it's been 8 months and getting out of the house without a care is slowly becoming a far-fetched dream.
I would read the reports of the number of cases rising and how we as a nation were slowly gaining over the other countries and it wasn’t long before we became the 2nd country in the world with the most number of cases! I was so Angry and frustrated – this only meant more restrictions, more sanitizing and masks! The loss of connection with others, the economic loss and most importantly – the loss of normalcy was just too hard to take in. When I spoke to my friends I realized we were all collectively feeling like this. The fear of losing your job, finances and the most dreaded is the fear of losing a loved one to the disease! To top it all we can't be near our loved ones and even if we are we don’t know for how long will this persist? The open endedness of the pandemic was a growing concern and left me feeling so helpless, so vulnerable and so frustrated!
I started following a strict routine for exercising and maintaining a healthy diet. I would make sure I follow my sleep routine as usual and get 8 hours of shut-eye every day. I was doing all this with the rationale that if my immune system is ‘up’ I won’t catch the virus! I heard of people drinking all sorts of concoctions that were propagated as immunity boosters, following alternative medicines to ward of the illness and what not. I also thought if I eat well and maintain good hygiene I won’t be sick. This was how we all Bargained - to be healthy.
I soon realized that most of the world (Me included), was going through Grief. I was going through the classic steps of grieving which were, Denial, Anger and Bargaining. The uncertainty the future holds, the end time for this illness, has actually caused Anticipatory grief in all of us which is the Sadness part of the process. The storm is coming…is what our minds tell us but we don’t know when and how it will affect us.
This breaks our sense of feeling safe – we all have been grieving on a macro level.
Understanding grief is the first step towards managing it effectively. This is when the Acceptance sets in and you want to move on. Acceptance gave me power and find control. I know that I can wash my hands or maintain a social distance to avoid infection. I learnt how to work virtually which, in fact, opened up new possibilities of reaching out to people in the most remote areas. Learning to let go what isn’t in my control was a big step.
I couldn’t control what my neighbor is doing outside my house but I can control my actions of staying safe inside my house – so I focused on that.
Finally, I feel we should all increase our levels of compassion – towards ourselves and others. Everyone processes grief and fear differently. What doesn’t scare you might be very scary for someone else. Don’t trivialize the situation and offer support to people who are facing fear and anxiety due to the virus. Be patient, especially with the ones who seem to behave differently than they really are, in this moment. Allow yourself to feel and express your sadness to others. Allowing feelings to happen and not fight them will make you feel empowered instead. You will no longer be the victim.
Yes, in spite of all these learnings, there are times when I am completely overwhelmed by a ’gang of bad feelings’. When I feel I am drowning… all I do at that time is to remind myself of the immense power I have within me to surpass this and be calm. I can anytime reach out to my close group of friends who are going through the same and can empathize with me – which does make me feel better. Yes, I do miss the human connection but something’s better than nothing! I even find myself being grateful to be living in the era of internet and wi-fi that’s 5G which helps me stay connected, even if it's virtually. I have actually adapted to working remotely – something which was a discomfort earlier. I see myself being more focused and more productive since I am not commuting to work. So yes, there have been small blessings if I choose to see them.
I have learnt that once I ‘allow’ the feeling of grief it's easier to keep going on with the thought that ‘this too shall pass’!