These are unprecedented times. People across the country are adjusting to major disruptions in their daily lives as a result of COVID-19. The impact is wide-reaching – resulting in drastic changes to work and school routines, financial and food security and imposed social restrictions – all of which have left many grappling with the loss of normalcy. These enormous transitions are compounded by the anxiety of contracting coronavirus.
Disruptions, uncertainty and changes in our daily routines have an emotional impact on all of us. In order to care for ourselves, it is important to embrace the many different emotions we are feeling around our current reality and give ourselves permission to grieve. Grief is not always associated with the death of someone you love; rather grief is a multi-faceted reaction to a loss. There are many losses beyond death that may elicit a grief reaction including termination from a job, the end of a relationship and deterioration of health.
Examples of grief responses:
- Emotional: anxiety, anger and sadness
- Physical: change in sleep patterns, muscle tension and headaches
- Cognitive: problems concentrating and remembering things
- Spiritual: questioning our faith or moving closer to it
Grief is not a choice. It is a natural response to the kind of losses we have all experienced so much of in the last several weeks.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing grief, below are some tips to help you begin to process and cope:
- Acknowledge all of the various emotions you are experiencing.
Although challenging, it is important to sit with and embrace these feelings. These uncertain times are filled with many associated losses and grief. Know that your reactions are NORMAL and OKAY!
- Delineate what you CAN control from what you CANNOT.
In order to distinguish and visualize the two categories, it may be helpful to make a list. If you find yourself veering into “CANNOT CONTROL” territory, this is normal! Pause, take a deep breath, and center on the present moment.
- Cultivate and welcome kindness into your day.
Give yourself the permission to take up whatever emotional space you need at this time. If you have the capacity, share the gift of compassion with others. Although we are all engaging in social distancing, we can still connect in a meaningful way with the community at large (grocery pick-up/drop-off chains for an elderly neighbor or decorating a sidewalk to bring a smile to pedestrians). Recognize and celebrate the love and benevolence going on around you as we navigate these waters together as a society!
- Engage in healthy habits.
It is important to commit to a routine to establish a sense of normalcy. Set an alarm, shower, and change out of your pajamas. Try your best to eat nutritious food (although, this may be challenging in light of decreased access). Give your body the sleep it requires to stay energized and strong. Get outside! Sun provides us with plenty of Vitamin D and fresh air and movement has many benefits for the mind and body.
- Be creative with socializing.
We are fortunate to have incredible technology that allows us to see and communicate with those we love. Pick up the phone and call a friend. Schedule a family FaceTime or Zoom happy hour. Post a message or meme on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If your access to technology is limited, consider putting pen to paper and mailing a letter or card. Relationships are important and provide an outlet for mutual support and connection!
In these unsettling times, there can be comfort in numbers and the knowledge that our society at large is really all in this together. Physical isolation does not eliminate our ability to maintain emotional connections to one another during this difficult period in our lives. Please know that Gift of Life Donor Program and Gift of Life Family House remain committed to your care. Do not hesitate to contact us for support. Donor families can contact our Family Support Services counselors via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-366-6771. Recipients and caregivers are encouraged to connect with Family House social workers at email@example.com or 267-421-6975.