GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — You may not be impacted by COVID-19, medically speaking, but we are all affected in some way or another. For many, there's an uncomfortable feeling we really can't put a finger on.
That feeling could be grief, not the loss of someone but the loss of control in our lives or a sense of security that has been shaken.
"Grief is that emotional response to loss, and right now what’s happening is we have so many layers of loss or so many potential circles of loss, and some of them are very visible, and some of them are invisible," noted Bethany DeBlaay of Grand Rapids Trauma Counseling.
That would describe our experiences with COVID-19: it's a threat we can't see but has turned our lives upside down.
Life as we know it is just different. People have had to cancel events, big and small, not to mention the personal, financial and family system losses. "They're just kind of all sprinkled throughout," DeBlaay explains, "and it can be easy to ignore or forget when you think, Well I’m in my house. If I’m not an essential worker, I can limit by exposure, but yet its a constant thing."
It's why DeBlaay says it’s important to avoid expending energy avoiding or resisting those emotions, but instead decide to actually feel them as they come in.
"Part of that is just acknowledging the discomfort, whatever it is that you feel. Even if it's as simple as saying, I'm grouchy right now, or I’m so tired, or my whole body is so heavy right now."
And then acknowledge that those highs and lows will come and go.
“What I’m really hearing from people, too, is that it is very much like traditional grief (if you want to think of traditional grief like loss of a loved one)," she continued. "People are having a day where they’re having high levels of energy and high connection, and for no apparent reason the next day, none of that is available. That is happening to everyone.”
That's why, now more than ever, it’s important to give yourself grace and compassion. “Everything is harder, every single thing," DeBlaay says. "The grocery shopping. Do I talk to my mail delivery, do I not? All this energy, we’re thinking about all the things we weren’t thinking about before, we just did … which is also causing fatigue. We're all carrying a lot right now, even if you think you aren't."