As the pandemic continues for a longer period of time, the feelings of loss, isolation, and loneliness are likely to increase as a result of the physical distancing we all need to do. These things overtime can impact both our physical and mental health.
One of the most important things we can do is to acknowledge the losses we are experiencing. Taking note of our feelings and expressions of grief is the first step to identify ways to take the best care we can of ourselves.
Things people can do to help cope with this grief they are feeling:
• Express your needs. It’s alright to let people know what is and isn’t helpful right now.
• Help someone else. It may be helpful to volunteer or make a donation to a favorite cause in memory of what you have lost.
• Give yourself time. There is no set time limit to be done grieving, but grief usually softens and changes over time. With time, the holidays will become easier to manage.
• Be aware of your feelings. Allow yourself to mourn and feel sadness. Identify what you have lost.
• Name your strengths and coping skills. Consider other times of loss you’ve gone through. What did you do to help get through it? What skills can you draw upon now?
• Stay connected. Physical distancing doesn’t have to prevent you from getting support. Use phone calls, text messages, video chats and social media to stay in touch with family and friends who are positive and supportive. Reach out to those in similar situations.
• Limit your news intake. Spending too much time reading or listening to news about the COVID-19 pandemic can cause you to focus heavily on what you’ve lost, as well as increase anxiety. Find a healthy balance to stay informed without overdoing it.
• Reflect on the journey. Your loss doesn’t define your whole experience. Consider some of the good memories and the big picture.
Feelings of grief and loss can be particularly strong during the holidays. Our losses and the COVID-19 pandemic may prevent us from practicing long-held traditions. Here are a few ideas on how to find new ways to honor traditions during this time:
• Instead of gathering around a table, share the same meal while connecting virtually or connect by phone before, during or after the meal.
• Unwrap gifts over the phone or computer.
• Make gift bags of goodies for people to pick up from your doorstep or send through the mail.
• Watch a special movie together over video chat.
• Create an audio or visual journal of friends and family singing favorite songs or sharing holiday memories.
• Interview family members over the phone, or virtually, to capturer family stories, memories, or traditions on paper or video.
• Enjoy a virtual holiday trivia game night.
• Have a coloring contest where everyone colors a holiday picture and votes on their favorite.
Remember: We need to give ourselves permission to grieve our losses while also creating some new ways to honor those holiday traditions which can assist in our healing and increase mental well-being. Think about what was important about your holiday traditions and then be creative to come up with new ways to accomplish this while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
Want to share this?
If you would like to print off that information for yourself or to share with others, the flyer Grief, Loss, & New Traditions During the Holidays (pdf, 1 page) has that same information.
You are not alone. There is help 24/7!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19 and need support, contact the SAMHSA Disaster Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.