3 ways lingering pandemic grief might still be affecting you today and how to overcome it.
What can we say about the pandemic that hasn’t already been said? Well, quite a bit if you consider the ways in which grief snuck up on millions of us years after the onset of COVID despite normalcy regaining its footing in our lives.
While masks may no longer don rearview mirrors in vehicles and regulations for public gatherings may not be as stringent, the fact remains that over 6 million people lost their lives to the virus. This means 6 million families are still grieving their loved one who never had the sendoff – or Celebration of Life – that they deserved.
3 Ways the Pandemic May Still Be Affecting You Today
According to the CDC, 13% of Americans started or increased their substance abuse due to emotions directly related to COVID-19, causing overdoses to skyrocket. The pandemic also caused tormenting anxiety and fear that contributed to worsening mental health states. Combine both substance abuse and mental health disorders and we have a serious problem on our hands.
So, while we may all get to enjoy a family dinner at our favorite Mexican joint or see our favorite singer perform again, the lingering effects of the pandemic are still alive and well. Here are three ways lingering pandemic grief may still be affecting you today and what you can do to heal.
- You did not get to say goodbye to or grieve your loved one lost during COVID. As if losing a loved one during the pandemic wasn’t painful enough, many had to die in solitude with hospitals tightening visiting rules to protect patients, leaving them and their loved ones unable to say a rightful goodbye. Then gathering restrictions and safety concerns made it impossible for lost loved ones to have the memorial services they deserved. Now, two years later, the proverbial sun shines again but families are revisiting the twinge of pain involved with losing their loved one in order to finally host a memorial service in an effort to find closure.
- Despite loosened regulations, your fear and anxiety continue to impede your ability to enjoy life. Where some were negatively impacted by isolation associated with lockdowns and quarantine, others continue to avoid living normally – that is, gathering with friends and family and doing the things they used to enjoy – due to lingering fear and anxiety around the virus. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of Covid-related grief, your feelings are valid and nobody should have to navigate crippling worry or live in isolation out of fear.
- Unresolved pain. Feelings of grief come and go, and for many, the negative feelings associated with Covid may have brought up unrelated past grief that you may have thought was a thing of the past. You may be one of the many whose mental health dwindled during lockdowns or you may have taken to alcohol or substance abuse or even overeating to cope with the mounting stress of the pandemic. And just because cases have gone down and the world is finally spinning again doesn’t mean the black cloud of stress that caused you to establish less-than-healthy coping mechanisms magically goes away.
So what do you do if you find yourself in any of these positions?
In addition to Covid concerns and suicides skyrocketing, it is clear that we have not scratched the surface as a society when it comes to coping with and processing the grief we all experienced as a result of Covid.
From polarizing politics to losing family members from the virus who you have not adequately mourned, or lingering anxiety over catching the virus, there is a wide range of emotions that if left undealt with, can continue to wreak havoc on your life and even contribute to unfavorable health outcomes.
How to Cope with Lingering Pandemic-Related Stress
It is critical for your own mental health and happiness to find a trusted individual with whom you can talk about the pain and how difficult the last few years have been for you.
It is important to feel safe to reemerge, celebrate life, connect with loved ones, and be in community together again – since, after all, it is how we were designed to live as humans. If you made it to the other side of the pandemic with your health intact, that is something to celebrate!
While none of us chose to have the pandemic rock our worlds, doing the work to process the complex emotions and find healing from such a historical event is 100% up to us. And we are here to help.
Still Experiencing Pandemic-Related Grief? You Are Not Alone
If you still find yourself in the throes of pandemic-related grief despite the rest of the world “going back to normal,” you are not alone.
If health anxiety keeps you from re-acclimating to a post-pandemic society or the workforce, we can help you process your grief and take the steps to feel secure in your body and the world again.
We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up an appointment and spend some time with us – we’re here for you. To learn more about why grieving is so exhausting, join our private Facebook group
Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here.