Since the onset of COVID-19 we’ve had to endure a number of changes, along with the feelings that go with them. Grief in particular is one that’s often talked about given the losses we’re experiencing both collectively and individually. These include but are not limited to loss of income, routine, safety, freedom and even the loss of loved ones.
Grief affects all areas of life, and can show up in unexpected ways. If you’ve experienced loss or are anticipating a loss you may be experiencing or more of these signs:
Sadness is not the only emotion connected to grief. Many people experience anxiety when the notion of being protected from negative events, like physical illness, is shattered. When a major loss occurs our sense of self and the world are shaken, especially if our identity was closely tied to the loss. If the safety and familiarity you were used to changes all of a sudden, it’s normal to experience a sense of powerlessness and panic. You may find yourself worrying or ruminating about the future. What’s more, if you had unresolved feelings from a previous loss you’re more likely to worry about future losses.
2) Lack of focus:
Grief can bring up feelings of uncertainty, helplessness, and diminish our ability to focus. You may struggle to complete tasks, be more passive than usual, and overall feel less clear. Making decisions can be particularly difficult, if you start to mistrust your judgment and ability to deal with things on your own. This is especially true for anyone who had a dependent relationship with the deceased, or who had to take on a new role to accommodate a recent loss.
It is perfectly normal to feel angry after a loss. In fact, many individuals will experience irrational anger when grieving. For example, you may feel angry at your loved one for dying, even if logically you know the person didn’t have a choice. Similarly, you may feel abandoned by your employer for laying you off, or resent your spouse for still being able to work. As anger can easily get displaced you may have a harder time feeling happy for others and be more sensitive to affronts. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling bitter, irritable or envious after a loss.
Guilt is often the result of anger turned inwards. You may feel angry at yourself for not grieving in an expected way, or for having negative feelings towards the person who’s departed or loss. If your relationship with the deceased was estranged or ambivalent you may have regrets about your time together. It’s common to dwell on the things you feel you should or shouldn’t have done when grieving. Do your best to be kind to yourself, and remember that hindsight is always 20/20.
5) Physical symptoms:
Perhaps the most surprising sign of grief is the ways in which it physically manifests. Individuals who do not feel sadness towards a loss may still experience physical symptoms of grief. Oftentimes physical symptoms are the only sign that grief is present. These may include lack of sexual desire or hyper sexuality, lethargy, difficulties sleeping, tension, irritability, restlessness. Physical symptoms are often the body’s way of expressing grief, but can also occur due to a weakened immune system.
At a time where so much is at stake and so much loss has been had, it’s important to acknowledge and make room our grief. Being able to feel through your grief, even if in spurts, is necessary for managing any kind of loss. Even if you’re just anticipating a loss, know that your feelings are valid. Identifying your symptoms and connecting them to a past or recent loss can help bring clarity and understanding to your situation.
The second part of this blog series will discuss the stages of grief. To learn more check out part 2 in this blog series.
Are you struggling with grief or loss?
If you’ve experienced loss or are concerned about a potential loss contact me to get support.