Grief: You Can’t Just Get Over It

Written By Miracle Hawkins, Contributing Writer

1/16/21

According to the CDC “COVID Data Tracker,” there have been over 340,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States. Sadly, this means that over 340,000 families lost a loved one during what was already an uncertain and traumatic time. This doesn’t even include the lives that were taken due to police violence and racism, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. This doesn’t even include the deaths caused by heart disease, cancer, homicides, and suicides.

When we experience a death or the loss of something, we will also experience what is known as grief. Grief is a common experience as most people have had to face the death of a family member or a close friend. Grief can also take place after ending a relationship or losing a job. Grief is truly universal, and we either have experienced or will experience it at some point in our lives.

Honestly, the pandemic has caused grief in many ways as we have also lost a sense of “normalcy.” This has sparked similar feelings that we have when someone dies, such as sadness, hopelessness, and fear. Even though it is a common experience, it important to note that grief does not look the same for everyone. Some people grieve for years and find it extremely difficult to move through their loss. Others can move forward immediately and continue functioning as they did before. Regardless of what grief looks like for you, the fact is that it is painful and it is real.

A significant amount of research has been done on grief. Researchers have focused on feelings surrounding grief, stages of grief, differences in how we manage grief, and more. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross is a psychiatrist who is well-known for her work on grief. In 1969, she introduced her five-stage grief model in her book called “On Death and Dying.” The five-stage grief model includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kübler-Ross “notes that these stages are not linear and some people may not experience any of them. Yet and still, others might only undergo two stages rather than all five, one stage, three stages, etc.” [1] Taking the time to understand the five different stages of grief will be very beneficial if you believe that you or someone you know is currently experiencing grief. What are some symptoms of grief?

Physical:

  • Headaches
  • Chest or stomach pain (call 911)
  • Shortness of breath (inform your doctor immediately)
  • Body aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite that result in weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Mental/Emotional:

  • Feeling angry, frustrated, and irritable
  • Feelings of anxiety fear, and depression
  • Feeling detached or withdrawn
  • Increased stress
  • Crying often
  • Numbness (no emotions at all)
  • Confusion or mental fog

The following strategies are healthy ways to help reduce these common symptoms of grief and loss:

  • Draw comfort from God (pray and read scriptures on loss and grief)
  • Seek support from family and friends and refrain from isolating yourself
  • Do not compare your grief to others
  • Allow yourself to feel more than just one emotion
  • Engage in self-care
  • Seek local grief support groups
  • Consider seeking professional help from a licensed therapist who can help you process your thoughts and emotions surrounding your loss and grief

References

[1] Gregory, C. (2020, Sep 23). The five stages of grief. Psycom. https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.grief.html

Published by Counseling With Leslie

Leslie Stevens, M.Ed., LCMHC is a North Carolina and Virginia board-certified licensed professional counselor. She co-owns a successful practice in Carrboro, North Carolina. Leslie specializes in helping adults navigate stress, depression, anxiety, and perfectionism. Additionally, she is a life strategist, spiritual coach, and writer.

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