What a lot of folks are experiencing right now, during the 2020 COVID19 Pandemic, is akin to grief. The loss may not be of an actual person’s death but folks all over the world are certainly experiencing a lot of loss. The loss of anticipated plans, of anticipated income, of a sense of security and predictability. The loss of not being able to see loved ones, especially during important milestones--birthdays, graduations, holidays like Passover, Easter, Ramadan, etc.
Even if you’re not experiencing an actual death of a loved one, consider how general tips for coping with typical grief may be helpful right now--giving yourself space to feel whatever it is you’re feeling (e.g., anger, sadness, disbelief, anxiety, shock, fear, guilt, fatigue, etc.), allowing yourself plenty of rest, reaching out to family and friends who are supports, seeking professional help if needed (list of local-to-the-Triad Telemental health therapists and list of nationwide Telemental Health therapists), understanding you’re only human and that there is not “right” or “wrong” timetable for healing, and being gentle with yourself as your experience evolves over time.
One of the painful aspects of the pandemic is the need for many to be separated from their loved ones, especially during their traditional and cultural holidays. Below are ideas for still feeling connected while separated.
Zoom/Facetime with family and friends. Set up Grandma and Grandpa at the table where all can see and proceed as though they’re there!
Break out old photos or family videos and recall stories of past get togethers.
Play music that reminds you of loved ones not present, Eat foods that remind you of your family's cultural traditions, Cook/Bake your loved ones favorite recipes.
Give yourself permission to do things differently. Maybe you don’t have the energy (or food supplies!) to prepare the same dishes. Maybe you don’t feel up for doing the same traditions normally done with loved ones. And that is OKAY!
Give yourself permission to do things the same, even without family members typically there. It’s okay to still have fun and enjoy the holiday even if you’re not with your family members. Perhaps it would feel good to still do some of the traditions that typically include other family members not there.
Give yourself permission to play it by ear. Perhaps you wake up with energy to “do all the holiday things” but by midday, you just want to crawl under a blanket and watch netflix. It’s OKAY to change your mind!
Give yourself permission to feel bummed out. This is not a normal time and you don’t have to ignore or stuff your feelings or reactions to what’s happening. Allow yourself room to feel disappointed.
Consider whether it would feel good to practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude can often be a wonderful way of gaining perspective, humility, compassion, and connection. It has even been shown to improve emotions, energy level, and immune system functioning. BUT, it’s also OKAY if you need to just feel angry right now. Anger is also an important emotion to experience and make space for (as long as you’re not hurting someone else or yourself).
Find a release: Laugh, stretch, dance party it out, orgasm, cry, breathe deeply, shake your body. Give your body a break from feeling so tense.
Remind yourself that it won’t be like this every holiday. You’ll get to return to family traditions for future holidays.
***Note: A version of this, by same author, appeared in a recent article for an associated local news spot.
If you’re in North Carolina, the Three Birds team is all set up for virtual work and would be honored to offer you support. And if you’re outside of NC, we may be able to work with you too. Call 336-430-6694, go to our online portal or email firstname.lastname@example.org.