We are all facing strong feelings the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. We are also dealing with the emotions of others as well as the response of our communities. It may be helpful to look at our emotional response through a different lens. Viewing our current experience (and what we may experience in the future through this time) as grief can help us understand and manage it better. It can also guide us in this normal processing of what is going on around us as it continues to unfold.
Grief is not just about death and loss of a loved one or the loss of a job. It is also about loss of other things that are important to us. There are certain necessary losses EVERYONE must face in life. Grief is what we feel and experience in the face of loss. Given the current state of the world, grief and loss are all around us; For some, social distancing is a loss of social interaction or normal routine. For others, it is a loss of access to resources. Others have lost things such as long anticipated weddings and graduations. And yet, for others it is mourning the loss of loved ones and not being able to grieve as they normally would have. All of us have lost the ability to engage in previously planned things and all of us have lost some sense of security and stability. COVID-19 has impacted every area of our lives and our professions.
Generally, we do not do well with uncertainty and the unknown and we all have a difficult time coping with loss. The better the understanding of grief and loss we have, the better we are able to cope with it. You have likely heard of the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. Think about where you might be in this process right now and where you have been. It is important to remember that this process is normal. Think of each stage as experiences that are typical with loss, more than a specific progression from one stage to the other. Grief does not always go in a particular order but may wax and wane between or go back and forth a bit. That is OK. No one grieves the same way but all has will likely experience each of these stages. It is also important to extend this understanding to others. It can be difficult when people are at different places with their grief and may not be feeling or needing the same thing. This has the potential to cause tension, conflict, or hurt in our relationships. We need to be kind to ourselves as we deal with loss and give an extra measure of it to others as we all deal with this together.
Below are some great resources around grief and how it applies to this current crisis. We hope they are helpful. As always, know we remain accessible to faculty, staff, and students. Please feel free to be in contact.