How To Move Through The 7 Stages Of Grief In A World Changed By Coronavirus

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How To Move Through The 7 Stages Of Grief In A World Changed By Coronavirus

With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, millions of people are experiencing emotions like fear and anxiety.

But as we’ve had to give up our normal lives for the foreseeable future, many of us are also feeling a type of grief similar to mourning the death of a loved one.

The world as we know it has changed. And we have to now learn how to deal with grief by determining what the stages of grief are and how we can get past them while this pandemic continues.

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The coronavirus has caused the death of a way of life you were used to. Instead of waking up each morning expecting things to be business as usual, you’re experiencing feelings of doom and gloom.

The virus hit like a tsunami, and the world is nowhere near determining how many will succumb to it.

You have to admit to yourself that things have changed so radically that it’s perfectly understandable to be feeling a deep sense of grief. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck in deep sorrow for as long as this virus lasts.

There are seven stages of grief one may go through during the coronavirus pandemic. At this time, you and many others may find yourself stuck in the first four stages. But the goal is to try and move past them and learn to heal.

As you get to the last three stages, you can begin to function in a way that’s closer to how you felt before the virus ravished your life.

Here's how to move through the 7 stages of grief in a world changed by coronavirus.

1. Shock and denial.

Experiencing shock over how the coronavirus spread inescapably to your own area is completely understandable.

The initial state of shock can provide you emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once, and you may find yourself going in and out of lesser degrees of shock at different times of the day.

It’s as if you’re still in disbelief that you have to live this new normal knowing that there’s nothing normal about it.

From shock you go right into denial, which can mean denying the reality of how serious the coronavirus pandemic really is and pretending that life isn’t dramatically changed.

The problem with denial is that, by resisting the need to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and not complying with the guidelines and health orders, you’re putting yourself and others in danger.

2. Pain and guilt.

As the shock over the ravaging virus wears off, another array of emotions sets in. You experience pain from witnessing the suffering of those with the virus on the news, in your community, or in your own home.

Pain can also be accompanied by feelings of guilt because someone near you contracted the virus and you didn’t, or the realization that thousands of people have caught it and somehow, you miraculously have not.

The greatest guilt can come from one’s child becoming stricken with the virus. Any parent would prefer it were them rather than their own child.

3. Anger and bargaining.

As pain and guilt give way to anger, you might find yourself lashing out and laying unwarranted blame for allowing the pandemic to happen.

You believe that it came from China, so it’s easy to feel anger toward China right now. But it’s important to keep in mind that many Chinese people have suffered greatly as thousands of lives have currently been lost in their country.

You must be mindful to not hold any undeserved judgment, blame, or vengeance towards them.

You might feel a great deal of anger right now for the disruption to your life and the enormous toll the virus is taking.

It’s important to try to control the anger as any heated words or physical actions, especially toward loved ones who have absolutely nothing to do with this happening, will only add to the suffering.

From anger, people often go into bargaining.

This can come from a place of feeling that if you negotiate, or make some type of plea like, “I promise I will be a better person,” then God or some other deity will hear your outcry and miraculously make the pandemic go away.

While prayer can be powerful, bargaining is a fruitless undertaking.

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4. Depression and loneliness.

Many of us are feeling extremely depressed about the state of things. But it’s important is to be aware of the fact involving how pervasive the pandemic has become so you don’t allow it to put you into a downward spiral.

You need to nip what could become a serious depression in the bud by reaching out (virtually) to friends, family, or professionals, and telling them how you feel so they can help you to process it. This is definitely a time to ask for help.

Look for therapy apps available on phones, which don’t require going to someone’s office.

You might also feel lonely. Again, it’s very important that you reach out to others if you’re feeling depressed or lonely.

We're all in this together, and everyone in their own way is struggling with the crisis. As a result, we’re more sensitive to what others are feeling.

5. The upward turn.

This is an important stage to reach, and can happen once you begin to adjust to this crisis. What that means is you've experienced the first four stages of grief and are now ready to move beyond it with less resistance.

This also means that you begin normalizing the new normal, but on your own terms. By doing this, you might notice that you’ve become less anxious. And, if you’ve felt some depression, you can begin to see it lift.

You'll find you’re able to regulate your emotions much better.

6. Reconstruction and working through.

As you become more functional, your mind can begin to work more clearly.

You start to feel more productive in ways you haven’t felt since before the coronavirus appeared in your life. And you're not thinking about the pandemic as much. You’re aware that it is still a danger, but you’re not obsessing about it.

You may have stopped binge-watching the news, and instead are just accessing it enough to keep yourself informed.

This stage allows you to feel as if you can rebuild your lives once this crisis is over.

You can begin to think of ways to revamp your business, or perhaps make decisions about your life that you’ll want to implement once the coronavirus has been defeated.

Some might also find themselves tapping into their creativity. Some of the most difficult periods can become the most creative. Many people have produced great work during some of the harshest of times.

When Issac Newton was compelled to work from home after the bubonic plague closed Cambridge University in 1665, he used his time to develop calculus and the theory of gravity.

7. Acceptance and hope.

This final stage is when you can begin to accept the reality of what you’re facing with the pandemic and deal with it calmly and rationally.

This doesn’t mean you have to like what you’re accepting, but you accept “what is” — meaning you understand that this is something you must deal with and that there are some things you can’t control.

It’s in your acceptance that you can find hope. Acceptance isn’t an act of passivity, but an act of strength.

You’ve moved through the stages of grief with courage. Your hope tells you that you’ll not be defeated by the grief that the coronavirus has caused and that you can get past it.

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Ora Nadrich is the founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and the author of Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity.

This article was originally published at Inner Self. Reprinted with permission from the author.