Grief is the complex emotional experience after losing someone or something that was loved and valued. The grieving process can be painful and can affect people from all ages and walks of life in individualised ways.
Grief comes with a range of challenging emotions such as sadness, anger, loneliness, disbelief, and numbness. You may experience physical symptoms such as fatigue or poor sleep. You may disconnect yourself from others. Or you may struggle to find enjoyment in activities you used to find pleasure in…
Grief also comes in diverse forms: the death of loved ones, loss in the form of unemployment, divorce or breakups, miscarriages, the death of a pet, loss of a home, retirement, and immigration. All forms of loss can impact our mental health and well-being.
Grief is a relevant topic to explore in our world that has been so harshly impacted by Covid19. Loss of life and a loss of certainty about our routines and futures have become commonplace. Covid19 has unsettled our everyday patterns of work, family, and leisure. The loss of certainty makes planning for the future and creating things to look forward to more difficult and increases feelings of anxiety. The cumulative effect of multiple kinds of losses due to covid19 makes it that much more disruptive and damaging. These experiences of covid-related grief are valid and real!
Moving through the stages of processing grief is not simple. It can take time to make sense of your experiences fully and move towards acceptance. You may have some days that feel easier than others.
Here are a few tips to help you manage covid-related grief:
- Acknowledge the emotions that come up without trying to push them aside. Allow yourself some time to understand and validate your experiences of loss.
- Find creative ways to express your emotions safely (e.g.: write a letter, create an artwork, make a list of soothing songs)
- Talk to friends and family about what you are going through. It can be normalising to hear other people’s experiences.
- Focus on self-care and keep a routine to help give your days direction. Managing short-term goals that you have more control over can help mitigate the uncertainty of longer-term goals.
- Find small things to be grateful for each day. This helps us to stay focused on the present and limit our worry over a future that is largely unknown.
Grief is difficult. The myriad emotions that you may be experiencing right now are confusing and messy. You may not have all the emotional resources available currently due to the many losses you may be facing, so allow yourself the space to be compassionate to yourself.
Remember to reach out to a mental health professional for additional support if you find your symptoms are impacting your daily functioning. Our team of psychologists are available to help you process your grief and loss in a kind and compassionate way.
Michelle Nortje (M.A. Clin Psych, B.Psych Hons, B.Ed.Psych Hons, BA) is focused on establishing a therapeutic relationship that is safe, trusting and supportive. Michelle aims to use integrated psychological tools and approaches in order to help her clients make sense of their difficulties, gain insight into their patterns of behaviour and relating, and work towards co-constructed and workable goals. She uses Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Positive Psychology, mindfulness-based approaches, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Attachment theories and psychodynamic theories in order to tailor the therapy to best suit the client’s needs.
Michelle’s clinical training and diverse experience have equipped her to intervene in a variety of mental health issues and age groups. She has gained experience working as a clinical psychologist across non-profit, government hospital, school-based and private settings. Across all her roles, Michelle has expanded on her interest in working with children, adolescents and adults experiencing a range of mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, adjustment difficulties, trauma and grief.
Michelle is dedicated to consistent professional development by engaging in peer consultation groups, receiving regular supervision and expanding her knowledge through frequent webinars and courses in order to ensure effective interventions with her clients.