#Askingforafriend: Understanding and dealing with grief

By Caitlin Cox
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

If you are anything like me, you might feel at a loss of words to describe the time our world is currently going through. I have noticed feeling frustrated, sad, anxious, stressed and tired.

Several friends and I have had to reschedule big, exciting events that we have had planned for at least weeks, some even months. For a while, the one word that continued to ring in my mind is: strange. All of this feels strange.

Upon further introspection and through some discussions with my friends, I soon began to realize what I was experiencing was grief.

We all can experience grief during the course of our lives. Grief can come from instances big or small and can include a traumatic loss, a job change or no longer being friends with someone.

While we are all cooped up in our homes and attempting to create a new rhythm of life, most of us will be grieving the familiarity we once had. Grieving how we connect with others. Grieving what feels like a loss of control over our plans, even our lives.

Grief has been a common theme in my own life — an immobilizing force that kept me stuck, fighting tooth and nail to try to not feel the pain of loss.

It’s not uncommon to want to avoid our pain, we are wired that way. If something feels bad, we avoid it or push it aside and instead do what feels good.  However, what I have learned is this: If left unacknowledged for too long, grief can go from coming in small waves to coming as a full-blown hurricane.

So what are we supposed to do with the grief?

David Kessler, a grief expert, spoke with the Harvard Business Review about grief during this time of adjustment to the coronavirus (https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief).

In his discussion, Kessler highlights several different strategies that can help us cope with grief, including:

  • Find balance in your thinking: Balance the worst-case scenario with the best-case scenario.
  • Come into the present: Use your five senses to keep you in the current moment.
  • Let go of what you can’t control: We can only control ourselves and are not responsible for the actions of others.
  • Stock up on compassion: Everyone is experiencing and dealing with this differently; remember to be patient with them.

To effectively cope with grief, we must give ourselves permission to feel it. It is essential for us to learn to meet ourselves in the grief without judging it. We then have to validate our experience and remind ourselves that it’s normal and OK to feel the sadness.

There’s nothing normal about experiencing a global pandemic. No one taught us how to handle this kind of situation.

It’s OK to long for things to just “go back to normal,” but we also are invited to find a sense of acceptance of what is resting in the “new normal” while also giving ourselves permission to acknowledge our emotions. Through this process of allowing ourselves to grieve, perhaps we can find some deeper meaning from this current time.

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Bible Verse

"Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation..."  (Luke 2:29-30)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/