Grieving Through Another Pandemic Holiday Season

Post by Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW

Grieving Through Another Pandemic Holiday Season

This is our second year collectively facing a crisis across the globe that has kept us living with some level of anxiety and feelings of isolation. The COVID-19 pandemic has been very hard on so many people in many ways. It can feel endless and overwhelming. When we are also living with grief after the death of a loved one, it compounds the difficult feelings.

Grief can feel like a heavy blanket that weighs everything down. It can come in waves, relentlessly battering your broken heart, or like a rogue wave it can arrive in an unpredictable burst of sudden pain. Intense grief reflects the deep love we have for the one we have lost.

You are not alone. So many people are facing difficult circumstances and feeling like you are. As you move through these painful times, look for small ways to soothe yourself, even for a moment at a time. It seems endless, but this too will pass, and if you are able to soothe your self for a few moments today, that will help fortify you for the next wave of feelings.

Honour Your Experience

Your thoughts and feelings are perfectly normal for you as navigate grief against the backdrop of a pandemic. You may be surprised at some thoughts and feelings that seem unusual, but they are likely quite natural under the circumstances.

Speak honestly with family and friends about the impact of loss. Together, you can negotiate ways to feel connected while still keeping safe. Spend time with the people who support and respect you in your grief.

It is ok to change your traditions. Decide what feels right to you right now. These times call for changing our routines, so consider activities that may offer a fresh approach to the season that reflects your new reality.

Take care of yourself. Exercise. Eat well. Rest.

Take time to remember and honour your loved one. Holding a private ritual acknowledging your loved one can offer an outlet for adults and children alike to express feelings of loss. Light a candle, play their favourite music, or look at old photos.

Breathe. When it feels very difficult, take a breath. Pause. Then take another. Deep breaths with long slow exhales help to activate the calming centre of our nervous system. As you breathe deeply, you will notice that something shifts.

There is no one “right” way to grieve.

Be gentle with yourself. Trust yourself. Follow your instincts and try different things to soothe yourself as you adjust to your loss.

In time you will adapt, accepting this reality as you find ways to allow the joy and peace of the season and warm memories of your loved one to co-exist with the feelings of grief, gradually helping to ease the pain you feel now.

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