It Might Be Grief
When we feel we have no control over much of what is going on in our lives, we can unconsciously feel vulnerable. People handle vulnerability in different ways.
A positive way to look at it, is an opportunity. We have choices to make. Most people did not see COVID-19 coming. The governing systems have dictated how we should and, in most cases, must, mitigate the perceived crisis. Experiences during this time range from fear to anger to victimization to resignation. One thing to consider is grief. Many people realize they miss a myriad of things, especially civil liberties. When you miss something, grief can be triggered. Whatever seems to diminish us physically, psychologically, or spiritually – any unwanted experience – can be grieved.
Grief often presents as illness – physically as nausea, weight change, or sleep disturbance. Emotionally, it can look like depression, anger, loneliness, fear, guilt, or anxiety. Mentally, it can present as poor concentration and poor memory. Spiritually, you may be doubting and examining beliefs. These symptoms of grief can often frighten or confuse people. It does not mean you are weak or going crazy. Fortunately, something can be done about this. Here are some ideas.
- Think about your life experiences. What have you lost and never grieved? For example: moving, losing a job, not getting accepted in school, or missing a funeral. Unresolved grief accumulates and can explode when you least expect it. Keep the slate clean.
- Consider your cultural and spiritual beliefs. Have you answered for yourself “big life questions?” What is the meaning of life? What happens after death? Does God exist? When does life start and end?When encountering trauma and chaos, having answers to these questions can be a source of strength and help keep you balanced.
- Develop a ritual or ceremony. This is often done to mark life transitions and milestones like birthdays. It can also be done to get a sense of closure, release something, give yourself permission, break through untruths, and affirm your self-worth. Whatever you need to keep yourself healthy and walking in a good way.
- Join a community for support. There are so many choices: sharing circles, 12-step groups, men’s groups, seniors, survivors’ groups, faith groups, public speaking, self-help groups, etc.
Take this opportunity of “self-distancing” and “social isolation” to get to know yourself. If you do you can learn to recognize grief and embrace the initial discomfort of it knowing it is a process, and you are not going crazy.
For more information or to go deeper, check out a video that I did on YouTube.
Sharon Pasula is an Indigenous spiritual and cultural resource person who lives in Boyle Street.