Grief is all around us. It’s there when you wake up, when you float throughout your day, when you crawl into bed. There are a lot of losses for many of us right now.
Grief isn’t just from death. We’re experiencing a divide our country that we haven’t seen before. People are mourning the security of life and society. That insecurity feels different for each of us, and so does the loss.
Then there’s grief over the ongoing disruptions in our life with stay-at-home orders or restrictions that prevent us from going about life as usual. Put one on top of each other, and you’ve got a heavy load.
5 Stages of Grief
All ages are experiencing grief. As an elementary counselor, many students I work with are struggling with grief. They don’t understand why they are so down. They feel some relief when I tell them their anger or depressed feelings are normal. One student said, “I thought I had gotten over it. But I guess I didn’t.”
There are five stages of grief that are universally accepted processes. They include:
There’s not an order to these stages, nor does everyone go through each stage. It’s common for people to experience one or more of them differently.
Whether you are struggling with grief from death, collective grief over national events, the loss of life as you know it, or other losses such as divorce, estrangement, or other relationship losses, your feelings are normal. Working through your feelings, though, can be hard if you let them overtake you and you don’t feel in control.
Strategies for Grief
Here are a few tools for you to manage your grief and help yourself through it.
Name your feeling as succinctly as you can. The more specific you are about your feelings, the more in control you are of your emotions and needs. Being lonely is different than being angry. Disappointment is different than the mourning the physical loss of a person. When you name your emotions specifically, you’re more apt to know how to fill that need or to have someone help you with it.
Know you won’t feel the way you do forever. Hope is the light on the horizon of darkness. When you’re encompassed with sadness, depression, and loss, it can feel as though the darkness won’t end. Grief doesn’t have a stop date, but the amount of loss in your life won’t always be as big. It won’t always take up as much space in your heart, mind, and soul. As I explained to my student, grief is like the seasons. Winter storms roll over to spring and summer. There is sun again, but also rainy and gray days. The process is slow, but it moves along.
Reach out to others. Some days you may want to be with others. Some days you may not. Others may not understand your grief, but you still need community around you for a healthy balance of light in your darkness. You don’t have to talk to others about your feelings, but simply being with someone you’re comfortable with is helpful.
Healthy coping tools are essential to help your grief. The sun will shine again. Until it does, know you’re not alone. We’re all in this together.