GRIEVING ... AND RE-GRIEVING … IN THE TIME OF THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
Updated: Mar 24
By Jill S. Cohen, NYC family grief counselor
Grief does not stop just because the coronavirus started.
The more time we spend in social distancing and isolation, the more time we are alone with our thoughts. Sometimes we find ourselves grieving more. Sometimes we even start to “regrieve,” actually grieving all over again.
I’m well aware of the anxiety that this heightened international health crisis is causing us. In my grief counseling practice, I’m seeing clients’ grief escalate and take on different forms, as the uncertainties ramp up.
Are any of these thoughts (see bullet points below) on your mind as well?
If only my (spouse, parent or adult child) were still alive, I wouldn’t have to handle this by myself. Some even find themselves talking to the deceased out loud, “XXX, I wish you were here to help. Why did you have to leave me alone with this?”
Those experiencing anticipatory grief worry about whether they are doing their very best to protect their ill loved one from any possible exposure leading to health complications and/or death. There is guilt whether they visit the ill or stop visiting the ill, either way.
There’s often anger that people are afraid to admit. Some articulate that they are upset that their spouse left them with limited resources and now the financial market is being shaken up.
Grieving adults are saying: Now that my kids are at home and underfoot all day, I can’t grieve privately. So, I have to put up a strong front.
Some grievers tell me this: I haven’t actually really thought of my deceased loved one as much recently, what’s wrong with me? Am I letting this crisis distract me? Or conversely, they say that their grief weighs so much on them that they are not paying as much attention to the coronavirus crisis, and feel removed from it.
Children and adult children are as nervous as nervous can be. They are hoping that their parents (either young, middle-aged or elderly) won’t get sick. Statistics every day show us that anything is possible. Nobody is immune to the possibility of catching the virus or even dying from it. This is when “catastrophic thinking” can take over, and up our anxiety levels big-time.
Do you have other thoughts that loom large in your head?
Do you wonder how to respond when your child asks if his/her grandparents are doing to die from coronavirus because they are older?
Helplessness in the face of imminent deaths. If a loved one passes away in the upcoming days, it is quite possible that only a limited number of people will be able to attend a funeral or burial. I am working with clients on ways in which to accept this situation, accept our complete lack of control around it, and plan for meaningful ways to honor the deceased after the coronavirus crisis abates.
Envy and Pity. Many grievers envy others who, while being socially isolated, at least have the company of others in their home. The griever may start to feel sorry for his/her self because he/she is alone due to the death of a loved one, and feel self-pity.
There is also just straight-up grief/missing the loved one. A friend of mine whose husband died several years ago said to me, rather randomly in an email today, “This is when I miss my husband’s calm presence and knowledge. And strength.” (This is a testament to the fact that people can grieve for a lifetime)
For more info on grief/anxiety and grief/social isolation, read my recent blogs:
MANY CONCERNS ARISE DURING CRISES LIKE THESE THAT ARE SPECIFIC TO GRIEVERS, whether the death of the loved one occurred in recent days, month, years, or in the distant past.
WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND AND HOW CAN I HELP YOU? As a service to the grieving community at large during this pandemic period, I’m offering complimentary 30-minute “grief relief” consultations by phone or zoom.
TOUGH TIMES CALL FOR GENTLE SUPPORT.
Visit www.jillgriefcounselor.com for more information about my services.
To book a 30- minute call, click HERE to schedule.