Categories
Grief Loss

How to Handle the Loss When a Loved One Dies of COVID-19

It finally feels like there’s some hope when it comes to seeing the end of this pandemic. But COVID-19 isn’t over yet. Even when it is, it’s impossible to ignore the destruction and devastation it has caused. 

People will feel the effects of this pandemic for years to come. It has taken a toll on mental health; it has changed the healthcare industry, and even the way people work. 

But, for some, COVID hit on a more personal level. 

Over 500,000 people in the United States have died due to COVID-19. While those individuals might be just another number to add to a statistic for some, when they are a loved one of yours, it’s different. 

So, how can you handle the loss when someone you care about dies of this virus?  

COVID-19 and Accepting Your Feelings

One of the worst parts about losing someone to the pandemic is that it was probably sudden and unexpected. An unexpected loss can feel so much worse, so people tend to handle them in different ways. 

However you choose to feel is completely up to you. Accepting your feelings and knowing that they are valid is the first step to grieving properly. Chances are your grief will begin with very intense emotions. You may be in denial, or angry, or you might immediately try to care for others.  

It’s easy to get “derailed” in your own thoughts and feelings, too. That’s become a common problem with COVID-19 deaths. You might start thinking about why it had to happen, and what could have been done to prevent it.

While those feelings are just as valid, try not to get caught up in the “what ifs”, as they can hold up the natural grieving process.  

Focus On What You Can Control

When you lose someone you love, it can also feel as if you’re losing control. You might become fixated on the things that are completely out of your grasp, which only serves to fuel frustration and hurt. 

Instead, use this time to focus on the things you can control. They might be small, everyday things, like choosing to take care of your physical health, or finding time to be mindful each day. Small choices can make a big difference.

The more you shift your thinking to things you can control, the stronger you’ll become, and the easier it will be to rise up to life’s challenges. 

COVID-19 and Getting Rid of Guilt

There are plenty of thoughts and emotions that will try to derail your grieving process. Guilt tends to be a big one, especially in dealing with an unexpected death. It can overwhelm you, especially when you wonder why you’re healthy and strong and someone you love had to die because of this disease. 

Survivor’s guilt is natural. But keeping an eye on it and making sure it doesn’t consume you is important. Eventually, you need to focus on experiencing joy and contentment in your life again. It’s okay if that takes a while, but don’t hold yourself back from positive experiences and moments of moving forward just because you feel guilty. 

The grief of losing someone to COVID can be different from the experience of a traditional loss. If you’re struggling to cope, feel free to contact me. This is a unique period of life, and with so many unexpected deaths due to this illness, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.

Together, we can work on more ways to handle the loss effectively and in healthy ways that will allow you to grieve on your own timeline, with a focus on eventually moving forward in life. 

Categories
Loss

Counseling for Loss

Counseling for Loss

Loss isn’t an emotional experience reserved for only the death of a friend or family member. There are many powerful losses we may experience throughout our lifetimes: loss of employment, loss of a marriage or relationship, loss of social connection (ex: moving to a new town), loss of property (ex: house fire or flooding), loss of a beloved pet and much more. Counseling for loss can be a great comfort and help as you move through this period. Some losses hit us harder than others. Each of us is different and experiencing a loss intensely that those around us don’t experience to the same degree does not make us weak, fragile or wrong – it makes us different. Like grief, every loss experience is personal and unique. And the recovery journey through it will be too.

Many of us also base our identity on our profession. When we meet someone, the first question we are often asked is, “What do you do?” It can be painful or embarrassing to admit to being unemployed. You might be surprised how many people hide the fact their unemployed from even their closest friends.

It can be especially difficult to share our loss and reach out to our friends and family for support if we are embarrassed by the loss, don’t feel others will understand how strongly we may feel or if our support system is not readily available anymore. For some of us the sadness and depressed feelings are the stronger aspect of our experience. For others, there is an anxiety or frustration that dominates this period. Either way is normal. Your experience is personal and unique to you. It does not have to fit into someone else’s idea of how a loss should be experienced.

Losing your home, career or relationship can very be frustrating. It also leaves you feeling very vulnerable. Feeling exposed, especially when it was not our decision to be so, makes many people anxious. Anxiety in turn, negatively impact sleep, which in turn impacts mood and memory, which creates more stress and anxiety…and so on…and so on. It becomes a cyclic and self-feeding problem.

Stress levels can go up with many types of losses and our preoccupation (not to mention reduced quality of sleep) can make our focus and memory a bit more difficult as well. Family and other relationships are usually impacted, adding more stress to the problem. Some of us take our frustrations out on the people who are closest to us – the ones “safest” to be emotional with. Why? Because is easier to be grumpy and grouchy with a partner or kids. But of course, this doesn’t work out so well, either.

Whether your unique and personal loss has you feeling depressed or anxious or both, counseling may be the right support for you at this time. Talking with someone who is trained and experienced in this area and who will preserve your confidentiality and dignity can make a big difference. If you’ve experienced a loss and you are ready to talk to someone who can help – please call.

Call Now (346)-493-6181

Ben Carrettin is Nationally Board Certified, a Licensed Professional Counselor and has worked in the arena of addiction/emotional health and the corporate world for many years. He is also a lay chaplain with advanced training in pastoral care and cross-cultural communication.

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