It’s Time to Talk About the Grief

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It’s time to talk about an uncomfortable topic for many.


Grief is so uncomfortable that many struggle to know what to say to someone experiencing the grief of a sudden, soul-crushing loss.  But grief can also sneak up on you.  The unfolding coronavirus pandemic is a set-up for this as people can initially be more aware of the other normal responses to this abnormal situation such as shock, anger, fear, worry, stress and anxiety.

I heard grief whisper in my ear the first time several days ago when out walking with my family on a nearby fire road, as were others as they have been ritualistically doing every evening.  The experience of us all purposefully walking around each other to practice social distancing and the vague underlying energetic tension in the air hit home for me.

We must be physically separate which contradicts our drive for human connection.

I’ve also noticed (in clients, friends and family) that there is little discussion about grief per se.  With my clients in particular, there are other signals of distress are coming up; anger outbursts, tensions in relationships, paralysis, acting out by children, preoccupation and overall angst.

Like many, you may be wisely using humor to manage your feelings; sharing memes on social media and in text threads (which by the way is a very effective coping tool).  But I also encourage you to at least be aware of grief and the possibility that you will encounter it at some point.  Also know it might be masquerading as other emotions.

Consider just a few of the losses people are experiencing as days go by:

  • jobs
  • money
  • security
  • your wedding
  • Spring Break trips
  • your son’s bar mitzvah
  • dinners out with friends
  • dinners in with friends
  • your kid’s last little league season
  • Tuesday night darts
  • being with classmates at school
  • church on Sundays
  • college tours
  • your favorite book club
  • hoops at the Y
  • movies at the theater
  • concerts
  • watching your favorite MLB team play
  • your 6 year old’s birthday party
  • picnics at the park
  • teen hangout sessions
  • chatting at your local cafe
  • time alone
  • nightlife
  • your kids playing with neighbor kids on the block
  • mall trips
  • your cardio fitness class
  • family get togethers
  • going to the bar
  • getting an ice cream cone in town
  • bowling
  • human connection
  • perceived safety
  • health
  • lives

How could there not be grief??  Keep in mind, there are things you may be doing to avoid grief and don’t even know it.  Diving into work at home, drinking more alcohol than normal and running for miles are just a few.  Or you might be putting a lot of effort into helping others as a way to stay distracted.

Humans are pretty adept at avoiding feelings, just ask a therapist. 

Keep in mind there are different kinds of grief that may be hanging around, not only grief for what we are losing or have lost but the anticipatory grief of not knowing what is coming.

Grief allows you to let go of something you have lost only when you begin to accept what you now have in its place. As our mind clings to the familiar, to our established expectations, we can become trapped in feelings of disappointment, confusion, anger, that create our own internal worlds of suffering.

– Daniel J. Siegel, MD

How to manage your grief > Take a seat next to it.  Acknowledge it is there (if you name it, you can tame it), practice self-compassion, talk about it to a trusted other, journal about your feelings now but also your hopes for the future and what you’re looking forward to doing when this is over.  Work on your acceptance of the situation.   If you are quarantined with children, model these steps to them.  They may be struggling with their feelings too and have even less of an ability to process grief.  Make space for their feelings too.

If you have no awareness of grief, it’s possible you are highly resilient and have been really adept at staying positive through this.  Good for you!  It also could be you’re not typically comfortable with uncomfortable feelings in life and you’ve defended well against grief for now.

Just be aware it might need your attention at some point.

Please read the article that inspired this one in Harvard Business Review, That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.

***If you are a resident of California, I am offering tele-health therapy support via California Online Therapy and Counseling. Phone, video or chat options and significantly reduced fees available for those in need.

***Anyone else looking for support I also offer one-time only educational Consultations (not to be considered therapy) to learn tools for stress and anxiety relief or other feedback on specific emotional health or relationship questions.

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