Articles > Disenfranchised grief: Grieving the life we had before the pandemic

Disenfranchised grief: Grieving the life we had before the pandemic

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

The pandemic has taken both a physical toll in terms of our health and social distancing measures and a huge emotional toll on the community.

In fact, it has vastly changed society as we know it.

While it has given rise to what leading grief counsellor Dr Alan Wolfelt has termed a ‘grief pandemic’, there are steps that can help all of us process stressors. By being aware of your emotional, social and spiritual health, and deliberately focusing on your own self-care, you can directly address the grief pandemic and mitigate its effects.

Acknowledge the realities

Ensure you take time to acknowledge the reality of your emotions – they’re natural responses to your situation. Turn this static grief into active mourning by talking to others about your internal thoughts. The more you communicate openly and honestly, the better you will feel.

Honour your feelings

It’s common to experience a range of emotions including shock, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, anger, guilt and regret, and many people are feeling the same way. To help process them, spend some time each day naming and being aware of these emotions. Talk about them with others or write about them in a journal or on social media, and seek professional support when needed. You will find that expressing your feelings will provide some comfort and relief.

Focus on the good

The pandemic has shown how essential it is to remain mindful of the good in your life. Spend a few minutes each day calling to mind the people, experiences and things that are the most precious to you, then find ways to express those memories and that awareness. This could be as simple as writing a personalised thank-you note each day to someone who means a lot to you.

Be kind to you

You and your feelings need and deserve tender loving care. Make a commitment every morning to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually in some small way. This could be as simple as taking a 10-minute walk outside, calling a friend to check-in, playing a game with a loved one, or even a five-minute prayer or meditation session.

Reach out and accept

As human beings, we need personal contact, which includes needing emotional support. Take time to build and strengthen relationships with those important to you. Talk openly and honestly with the people in your life and be as empathetic as you can. Your openness will encourage others to be honest as well, creating the opportunity for mutual support and kindness.

Keep informed, within reason

Ensure that you’re accurately informed about changing health advice and the measures you should be taking to keep safe. With lots of fake news around, limit your information gathering to factual sources, such as NSW Health. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so try setting boundaries around your media consumption. This could mean setting a time limit on reading the news each day or turning off push notifications from media sites on your phone.

Your to-do checklist:

  • Always get your information from trusted sources
  • Talk to others and acknowledge your feelings
  • Keep a journal of how you feel
  • Focus on what you’re grateful for
  • Make time every day to do what you enjoy
  • Ensure that you maintain regular human contact via video or phone call, social media, or seeing others as allowed

COVID-19 has changed how we communicate with friends, family and colleagues. It’s changed how and who we can see across our family units and support networks. And it’s changed how we fill our leisure time. Use Dr Alan Wolfet’s advice to help process the stress of living in today’s world.

The information on this website is for general information only and are not (and nor are they intended to be) a substitute for professional medical or mental health advice, nor is it used for diagnosis and treatment. You, or anyone you are concerned about, are encouraged to seek professional medical or mental health advice and treatment from suitably qualified medical and clinical practitioners and providers. 

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If you are in crisis or think you may have an emergency, immediately call Emergency 000. If you're having thoughts of self-harm or harm to others call Lifeline on 13 11 23 to talk to a skilled, trained counsellor. If you are located outside Australia, contact your local emergency line directly.

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COVID-19 Grief & Loss Memorials Resources

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

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