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Coping with Grief and Loss - From the Counsellors Desk

This is the first in a series of articles on Coping with Grief and Loss

Many people are experiencing grief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grief is a normal response to loss during or after a disaster or other traumatic event. Grief can happen in response to loss of life, as well as to drastic changes to daily routines and ways of life that usually bring us comfort and a feeling of stability.  Common grief reactions include:

  • Shock, disbelief, or denial
  • Anxiety
  • Distress
  • Anger
  • Periods of sadness
  • Loss of sleep and loss of appetite

Some people may experience multiple losses during a disaster or large-scale emergency event. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be unable to be with a loved one when they die, or unable to mourn someone’s death in-person with friends and family. Other types of loss include unemployment, or not making enough money, loss or reduction in support services, and other changes in your lifestyle. These losses can happen at the same time, which can complicate or prolong grief and delay a person’s ability to adapt, heal, and recover.

How to help when others are Grieving

It can be so difficult to know what to say or do when someone who has experienced loss. We do our best to offer comfort, but sometimes our best efforts can feel inadequate and unhelpful.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid rescuing or fixing. Remember, the person who is grieving does not need to be fixed. In an attempt to be helpful, we may offer uplifting, hopeful comments, or even humour, to try to ease their pain. Although the intention is good, this approach can leave people feeling as if their pain is not seen, heard, or valid.
  • Don't force it. We may want so badly to help and for the person to feel better, so we believe that nudging them to talk and process their emotions before they're truly ready will help them faster. This is not necessarily true, and it can actually be an obstacle to their healing.

Make yourself accessible. Offer space for people to grieve. This lets the person know we're available when they're ready. We can invite them to talk with us but remember to provide understanding and validation if they are not ready just yet. Remind them that you're there and not to hesitate to come to you.

People cope with losses in different ways. If you or your child are not coping with the loss of a loved one, please contact Mrs Moosa, the School Counsellor for further help.

 

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