5 strategies for coping with grief during a pandemic


For Johnson, it all comes down to energy. When you lose a loved one, she thinks, “the energy that would normally go into this relationship, it’s missing a direction, it’s missing a channel, that’s kind of what grief is.” So moving your body, she says, “helps move the energy that’s stuck, feeling lost and so painful.”

Of course, there is no magic cure for the non-linear and sometimes completely debilitating experience of grieving, which manifests itself differently in everyone. “There’s nothing that can take the pain of loss away, and I hate to say that because it’s often uncomfortable,” Johnson says. “But there are things you can do to connect with that person and connect with yourself and keep your body right here right now.” For example, she recommends speaking aloud or writing a letter to the person you’ve lost to help deal with unresolved feelings and emotions.

Develop your own ritual

We tend to think of rituals as reserved for formal ceremonies with large groups of people and rigid rules. But any activity, even the ones you can perform solo at home, can become a ritual as long as it’s performed with a specific intention behind it. This is according to Garfield, the New York-based artist who offers macrame weaves and memorial services under the name Go with you. She suggests that devising a ritual could be as simple as preparing a meal, listening to an album, or watching a movie that was of particular importance to the grieving person.

“If you put the intention in this moment, of ‘OK I’m about to do this act, this is what I want to work on, this is what I want to feel, this is the experience. that I want to have in this action, “it creates a ritual,” she said. “You repeat it over time and you see how your relationship to it changes. It is an ongoing ritual, and this is where healing can take place. “

Swart, the San Francisco-based psychotherapist, adds that taking back someone’s favorite hobby you lost is another way to honor it and keep their memory alive. “Maybe if you know they were really into art, maybe you see what it’s like for you to pick up brushes,” she suggests. “If they liked to make lemon bars, make lemon bars.”

Join a virtual gathering

During the mourning gatherings she organized before the pandemic, Swart would light candles, invite a sound healer and ask her clients to sit in a circle together. Now, these mourning gatherings look and feel a little different – the circle has been replaced with a grid of squares on Zoom – but the idea behind them remains just as essential: “We really need community when we have to. mourning, ”explains Swart.

The benefits of talking about grief in a community setting, she adds, are twofold: feeling a little less alone thanks to the support of others, and also de-stigmatizing the bereavement itself. While Zoom may lack the privacy of an in-person meeting, it does offer a few notable advantages. Among them: the comfort of being in your own home surrounded by your own familiar items, and the ability to mute yourself or turn off your camera if you need to take a moment to regroup or if you need to. impression of not wanting to be seen at the moment.

Find your community

If getting a therapist isn’t quite your thing, there are many communities online that offer grief support in a more relaxed setting. One of them is Having dinner, an organization that focuses on creating a space for 20 and 30 year olds to speak openly about loss. “One of the principles our work is really based on is that there is deep power in peer care. These heartache conversations aren’t just the ones that should take place within the confines of a therapist’s office, ”says Mary Horn, community manager at Dinner Party, who has gone totally virtual – and has given up all dinner – Last year.

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