Whilst it appears that we are living in unprecedented times, during which fear, anxiety and nervousness are all rational feelings, we do have coping mechanisms we can call upon to help us to continue to feel alive.
The death of a loved one is the most brutal and painful experience we will ever have to face – and I say this with a lot of conviction, having experienced seven significant losses within my own family over the last seven years. However, there are so many different types of loss that are all equally valid, including ambiguous loss (which includes miscarriages, dementia, missing persons), as well as symbolic loss (which includes loss of independence, redundancy, vision, freedom). Whichever way we look at it, a loss is still very much about something we are missing and need to process, in order to be able to live fully once again.
During these exceptionally challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are significant differences presented in how we, as a society, are expected to grieve for our loved ones. For example, where people have died, the family are often unable to have closure, due to the lack of opportunity to follow cultural traditions. People are dying alone, in hospitals and care homes, and this results in the families feeling a deep sense of regret, guilt and helplessness in not being able to say Goodbye to their loved ones.
The following are a few of my tried and trusted techniques for dealing with the pain of loss, to focus on livingthrough the experience and reaching a new normal.
Work through the process – in order to heal
Grief is a natural response to loss; therefore, it is so important to acknowledge the emotional suffering, and to grieve in a way that will help you to heal. Grief is not a linear process, but it does have specific stages: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, all of which are significant. Take the time you need to work through each stage, and try not to rush the process as you go through them. It is also useful to bear the following pointers in mind:
- Emotional pain can actually be physically painful, and you will need to be mindful of the pressure this places on your body. Tears will flow and this is normal, so allow the process, as tears can release the stress within your body.
- Ensure you are protecting and strengthening your immune system, for example, by ensuring you have a high intake of vitamin C and vitamin B6.
- Despite the need for social distancing, ensure you have appropriate support around you via phone or online, so that you can talk openly about your feelings.
- You may find solace in connections with your spirituality, in order to obtain a sense of healing and to find meaning.
Re-adjusting to life – focus on YOU
- This is the therapeutic stage, during which you will be acknowledging and making sense of the loss by recognising that the world hasn’t changed but that YOU have. This will enable you to move into a place of healing, where the focus is on self-compassion and self-care.
- I believe Nature provides great healing powers, and that engagement with Nature is important for our mental health and well-being. We can honour the process by walking and breathing in the fresh air and taking notice of things around us.
- Writing is a therapeutic way of helping people to come to terms with the sorrow they feel at the death of a loved one. You may find comfort in honouring the memory of your loved ones by writing a journal, and including certain things they used to say to you. Or you could record special memories about them.
Sonia Moore is founder of Mooreoptions Skills Development Training. She is an experienced counsellor and tutor, with over 25 years’ experience working within FE colleges, community hubs and the voluntary sector. She has a wealth of experience in listening to and honouring the experiences of many people who have shared their personal journeys. She is able to call upon her professional expertise and her own personal experiences to support others in reaching some understanding of how to replace pain and find peace.
Sonia has recently completed her delivery of the six-week online course, ‘Living Through Loss’. The feedback received has been amazing in terms of the therapeutic benefits the course has made in the lives of all participants.
Some of the comments received include:
“I have enjoyed this course thoroughly, and have gained so many insights into the process of loss. Thank you for the work that you are doing.” Ramona
“Thank you so much. The course was so well delivered, and the group was lovely and very supportive.” Samantha
“I found the course very therapeutic, and the coping strategies provided and reflective exercises were helpful. I felt it helped me with the process of grieving. I would certainly recommend it to everyone.” Beverley
The next course on ‘Living Through Loss’, which will be delivered online via Zoom, will commence at the end of September 2020 – date to be confirmed. For further information and to book a place, please send an email expressing your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on Sonia, please view her landing page on: https://livingthroughloss.uk/.