As we enter our sixth month of quarantine, the most common phrase I hear is “I miss my old life” quickly followed by “I feel guilty for saying that since I’m lucky to be alive”. During times of crisis and change, it is natural to feel grief. Most people associate grief with death, but grief can be defined as any type of loss that is difficult to process or accept. We don’t tend to process grief very easily in our society. Sometimes we put those feelings on the back burner and focus on distracting ourselves with tasks or work. It feels like the easiest thing to do “is keep moving forward”. However, if we can’t or won’t deal with what we have lost, it will catch up with us and can lead to depression and anxiety.
During the Covid pandemic, many of us have experienced losses. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, job, or even an opportunity, such as a trip or graduation party, it can cause pain and disappointment. Everyone is entitled to sit with these feelings without feeling “guilt”. Just like grief, guilt can lead to depression and anxiety too. Guilt is normal and inescapable, but when it becomes excessive and gets in the way of grieving, it’s time to kick it to the curb.
The most crucial step in dealing with the two Gs is acknowledging your feelings about a loss. It’s okay to take some time to explore what that loss means to you. Also, it’s important to not just focus on “how to fix it”. Often, our minds will develop a strategy of “what’s next?” instead of “what does this mean to me right now?”. Once you have allowed yourself to feel the pain, disappointment, and general negativity without feeling guilt, you can then start thinking about the next steps in your healing process. Sometimes that might be seeking grief therapy or counseling. Reaching out to others can be very effective, but feels “harder” during the pandemic. Fortunately, there are lots of online services available, so let me know if you need these resources.