That feeling that many people are collectively experiencing right now? It’s grief.
Some may be living through the loss of family, friends or colleagues who have died from the COVID-19 virus. Others have had losses that would be considered major life events, such as a job layoff. Many have lost recreation, social support and relationships.
Grief can be part of all of these types of losses, said Rev. Pam Lazor, chaplain in the spiritual care department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“Every time we have loss, we grieve,” Lazor said in a hospital news release. “We often don’t think of it that way, as grief tends to be more associated with death, dying, mourning or bereavement.”
Feeling anxious, sad, depressed, angry or lonely can all be signs you are experiencing grief, and everyone experiences it differently.
“There’s nothing predictable about grief,” Lazor said. “There’s really no way to tell someone, ‘This is what will happen, or this is how you should respond when it does.’ Even for those who’ve been through grief in the past, each grief is unique.”
Lazor said it’s important to look for meaning after loss and recognize that loss is a universal experience. You might also see this time as an invitation to deepen your faith and connect virtually with others.
“Having faith can help us understand our loss and find a sense of meaning and hope after the loss,” Lazor said. “Faith might not be religious faith. It could be faith in our own resilience or our connection to our community. However we view it, having faith can have a very positive effect following grief and loss.”
People who’ve lost loved ones during the pandemic may find it harder to grieve because of a feeling of being in limbo, Lazor said. It can be beneficial to connect with others.
“Some people who have had a virtual funeral or memorial service have been actually surprised at how wonderful the experience was and felt a great sense of connection,” Lazor said. “In some instances, this made the experience even more meaningful.”
It’s important not to avoid or suppress your feelings, she said.
“We live in a culture of needing to look as if we’ve got it all together,” Lazor said. “Grief is the antithesis of that, and we need to embrace the grieving process. We can’t go through our lives without experiencing some loss. We need to give ourselves time and space to mourn.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on coping with grief.
SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai, news release, Aug. 21, 2021