Our Upside-Down World

Author: Kathy Cherven | Date: April 16, 2020

As the Coronavirus continues to advance, so do my concerns for those grieving the death of a loved one prior to the pandemic. I think it is inspiring to read the posts on social media addressing all aspects of this pandemic, from what it feels like to have the virus, to recovery, to how everyone is being so creative while staying at home. My heart breaks when I read the experiences from the front line and the frustration and confusion brought upon by politics. This can be so overwhelming at times as we face the uncertainty of our world as it is now and will be in the future.

Prior to the Covid-19 epidemic, those mourning the death of a loved one would share on social media how they’re grieving through pictures, grief quotes, and videos of their loved one. These expressions of grief provided the connection and support so needed, but now there is very little shared about individual grief, overshadowed by the global grief.

As I’ve said in prior articles, each grief experience is unique with no comparison. I think though, that there is the assumption from some who experienced a loss prior to the pandemic, that others don’t necessarily want to hear about their grief due to the chaos of today. Maybe it isn’t a matter of choice but rather the inability of others to listen due to the current situation.

From the several clients I have seen via telehealth or phone, the main impact of the shelter in place seems to be the physical separation from family and friends. Most had been working, which provided the structure and distraction from their grief, but now they are home alone, intensifying their grief. Family members and friends continue to provide support from calls and texts, but without that much-needed hug.

There tends to be discount and insensitivity by some when a pet dies, after all, pets are replaceable. For some, the grief when their pet dies can be as profound as the death of a person. After all, a pet provides love, acceptance, and companionship, and is considered a family member, especially for those who live alone.

I had asked a client how and if the pandemic has affected her grief, and I was speechless when she responded that she doesn’t know how she fits in a world that has already been turned upside down following the unexpected death of her toddler a couple of years ago. She describes feeling confused and lost in a world that keeps spinning.

I’ve given a lot of thought to these situations and what would help someone who is grieving, and I have a few thoughts on what can help. I know we’re all grieving losses with this global crisis, but it would help to consciously shift gears and think about your friend/ family member who is grieving. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t text, but call your friend/family member so they can hear a caring voice and tell them you’re concerned about them.
  • Mention their loved one’s name.
  • It’s unrealistic to not talk about today’s crisis, so ask your friend/family member about their grief with the virus along with the grief of their loved one.
  • Send a handwritten note telling them you’re thinking of them.

For all of us, our world has turned upside down and will never return to the way it was before. That doesn’t mean it will be bad but it will be different, and as we grieve our old lives, we gradually adjust to our new ones.

Please remember those whose world was upside down before all of this occurred and reach out to them so they won’t feel like an invisible griever.

Thank you for reading and please stay healthy!

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