Learn, Share, Grow -The Feeling of Grief During This Pandemic
Below is a lesson from Harvard Business Review on why you may be feeling grief through this pandemic and how to manage it, as well as our key learning.
The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth. We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”. We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning. As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.
That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief
by Scott Berinato
March 23, 2020
Some of the HBR edit staff met virtually the other day — a screen full of faces in a scene becoming more common everywhere. We talked about the content we’re commissioning in this harrowing time of a pandemic and how we can help people. But we also talked about how we were feeling. One colleague mentioned that what she felt was grief. Heads nodded in all the panes.
If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it. We turned to David Kessler for ideas on how to do that. Kessler is the world’s foremost expert on grief. He co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. His new book adds another stage to the process, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. Kessler also has worked for a decade in a three-hospital system in Los Angeles. He served on their biohazards team. His volunteer work includes being an LAPD Specialist Reserve for traumatic events as well as having served on the Red Cross’s disaster services team. He is the founder of www.grief.com, which has over 5 million visits yearly from 167 countries.
Kessler shared his thoughts on why it’s important to acknowledge the grief you may be feeling, how to manage it, and how he believes we will find meaning in it. The conversation is lightly edited for clarity.
Continue reading here.
- Why one of the feelings you may be feeling during this pandemic is grief (and more than one kind of grief):
- The world has changed — while we know it’s temporary, it doesn’t feel that way and we realize things will be different.
- The loss of normalcy
- The fear of economic toll
- The loss of connection
- Types of grief we may be feeling:
- Anticipatory grief – that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain (usually centers on death, but includes broadly imagined futures, such as there being something bad is out there
- Feeling a loss of safety – we haven’t felt this loss of safety collectively before.
- Grieving on a micro and a macro level
- To manage all this grief, understand the stages of grief – they aren’t linear and may not happen in a particular order:
- Denial: This virus won’t affect us
- Anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities
- Bargaining: If I social distance, everything will be better, right?
- Sadness: I don’t know when it will end
- Acceptance: This IS happening, I have to figure out how to proceed – where the power lies. We find control in acceptance.
- How to deal with anticipatory grief:
- Anticipatory grief is the mind going to the future and imagining the worst.
- The goal is not to ignore those images or try to make them go away – your mind won’t let you. Instead, find balance in the things you’re thinking. If you feel the worst image taking shape, make yourself think of the best image.
- To calm yourself, you want to come into the present – meditate or practice mindfulness. Name things in the room. Breathe. Realize that in the present moment, nothing you’ve anticipated has happened.
- Let go of what you can’t control. You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can control your own.
- Stock up on compassion. Everyone will have different levels of fear and grief and it manifests in different ways. Be patient.
- Dealing with the open-ended aspect of this pandemic:
- It helps to say to yourself, “This is a temporary state.” The precautions we are taking are the right ones, history tells us that. We will survive. This is a time to overprotect but not overreact.
- Believe we will find meaning in it. What comes after the acceptance stage? We find light in those darkest hours – we find meaning.
- Still feeling overwhelmed with grief?
- Keep trying. There is power in naming this as grief. It helps us feel what’s inside of us. Emotions need motion – you name it, you feel it and it moves through you.
- We are the first generation to have feelings about our feelings (I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse.) We should stop at that first feeling and let yourself feel that way for a few minutes. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us.
- An orderly way of feeling:
- Sometimes we try not to feel because we imagine a “gang of feelings” will overrun us.
- The truth is it moves through us – we feel it, it goes, and then we go to the next feeling.
- It’s absurd to think we shouldn’t feel grief right now. Let yourself feel the grief and keep going.
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