It may not feel like it, but things will return to normal, albeit a new kind of normal, writes Doris Zagdanski.

The COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us of the impact that loss and grief can have on our daily lives. Loss and grief are all around us now as we are forced to adapt to changes we never anticipated.

Almost nothing about our lives has been untouched by change, including how we work, go shopping, go on holidays, schooling, socialising, exercising and even handshaking.

Where there is loss, there will always be grief.

Grief is about the way we react to loss and change – how we think about it, how we feel about it, how we then act in response to those thoughts and feelings and how our grief affects our health and wellness.

Doris Zagdanski

In a COVID-19 world, people are describing their reactions using words such as lonely, anxious, isolated, worried, stressed and angry.

It’s important to understand that these reactions are normal. There is nothing wrong with you because you are feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts.

Frustration and anxiety can be heightened because many decisions have been taken out of our hands and there is uncertainty about what the future will look like.

We are also in unfamiliar territory, whether it’s social distancing, working from home or home-schooling our children. Our comfort levels are being stretched to their limits.

How can you help yourself?

  • The easiest way to get your grief off your chest is to talk to someone about it. You will probably find many people will share similar responses to your own and you are not alone in the way you are feeling.
  • Writing about your thoughts and your situation can help. Keeping a diary can be like confiding in a friend because you can be authentic and say whatever is on your mind and there is no judgement or criticism.
  • Limit your exposure to the constant COVID-19 reporting in the media as this can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed, as well as filling your mind with death, fear and crisis.  Instead, you could spend a few minutes every day writing down three things you are grateful for, no matter how small. This is a great way to promote positivity and a healthy mind.
  • There are many helpful online resources, especially those which help you to learn mindfulness and meditation to quieten your mind and focus on self-help. These include coronavirus.beyondblue.org, mindspot.org.au/coronavirus and smilingmind.com.au.

Amidst all of this uncertainty, I still believe that this too shall pass. It may not feel like it, but things will return to normal. However, it is also important to realise it will be a new normal that we will need to learn to navigate.

In the meantime, it is important to have confidence that things will improve, that people will recover, and things will get back to a new normal.

Doris Zagdanski is a grief educator for Invocare who has been involved in the funeral industry for 30 years as well as long-term volunteer in bereavement support groups. See mygriefassist.com.au for factsheets, book lists, videos and links to grief related support services.

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