Maybe you don’t know someone who has died from COVID-19. Maybe you do. Maybe you’ve lost your job or, like all of us, lost the option to visit with friends and loved ones face-to-face. Even the loss of the option to hug has mental and emotional ripple effects. Any one of these scenarios includes loss. Loss of normalcy or loss of a here-and-now connection, loss of income, loss of purpose, loss of physical human contact. What human process is inherent with loss? Grief.
Grief doesn’t only apply to death. As beings with in-born emotional processes (whether you are aware of them or not, they’re there, undercurrents to our very existence), humans feel and experience loss in common ways. If you search the web for blogs on grief related to pandemics, you’ll see that this is one of many articles, podcasts, and blogs about the unique phenomenon we’re all facing. The information found on Grief.com can be applied to you and me right now.
Speaking from my own experience, I miss dropping by my friends’ houses (video chats are great, but just not the same!). I miss my family members, especially my siblings, that live in other cities that would visit at least once a month. I miss being able to move about without fear of contracting a life-changing, potentially deadly virus. I miss going to restaurants. I miss normal.
Sure, we could look on the bright side, but just focusing on the positive would be robbing ourselves of the acknowledgment that this is a difficult time. Does acknowledging hardship mean we get stuck in a state of despair? No. But riding the waves of grief alternating with gratitude and positivity mean that when we phase out of these pandemic-induced changes, the unprocessed emotion of it all won’t snap back like a rubber band and catch us off-guard.
In case you haven’t heard of Brené Brown, let me introduce you to her work. No thanks needed, it’s an honor. She has recently shed a whole lot of light on what’s happening to our human psyche during these unprecedented times, on her “Unlocking Us” podcast and on the Today show, explaining how humans typically respond to instant life-threatening situations, and how this time it’s different because it hasn’t ended just as quickly as it began (like a hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disasters). With such a prolonged “disaster” as this pandemic, it is understandable that we’ve become weary. The adrenaline has worn off and our edge has frayed. Many of us are just tired of feeling restricted. Tired of the work-place changes. Tired of constant news updates. Tired of feeling disconnected.
What she describes about naming and taming emotions is not easy, especially if this is a new-to-you concept. If you have ever been in denial about the importance of emotions and processing them as they come, now might be the perfect time to start. For many, that task is daunting, if not just out of reach, unless someone shows us how, guides us. That’s where a therapist comes in to play. This is our wheel-house. Our home turf. Coming in for an in-person visit or a telehealth video session is all it takes to start. As a therapist licensed to practice in the state of Utah, I can meet with any Utah resident over telehealth, no matter how far away you live from our office.
Feeling reluctant or apprehensive? I can offer this guarantee: every single one of the people (just like you) who have come in for their first session — feeling nervous, shaking, tense, and unsure — have left relieved. Relieved to feel heard. Relieved that they’re not “crazy”. Relieved that there’s a path forward. From my seat as a therapist, this change occurs almost like magic (even though it’s not magic 😉); I love seeing relief wash over the person sitting across from me. You can feel this relief too. Take a chance. Take a risk. Reach out to a therapist today. Relief is as close as the conclusion of your first appointment.