Disclaimer: This article covers subjects that some people may find distressing.
There is never a correct way to feel when you are tackling such an important issue, such as how to feel when there’s a big life change that you can’t control is affecting your daily mentality. With COVID-19 playing a role in uncertainty during these hard times, and then having the fears of not being able to say goodbye to a loved one, is completely distressing and upsetting. It is something that unfortunately, everyone will have to go through at some point in their lives.
Some losses and strain can have an affect on relationships with those around you, and whilst you may feel guilty about the way in which you conduct, it is completely natural to feel out of touch with what is going on right in front of you, and it is this time where you can implement steps to try and cope with it in the best way possible.
Seek support immediately
If you are urgently suffering, make sure you let people close to you aware of this. Communicating is absolutely essential when you are grieving. It doesn’t matter if it’s a really close friend, a family member, or a friend of a friend. I have found it a bit more relieving when I tell someone I don’t know about something that has been brewing on my mind, it feels like a weight lifting of your shoulders straight away, and you can gain a perspective of a new person that can’t judge you or your situation, aside from on face value. If it is starting to affect day to day routines, make sure you book an appointment whether that is online or in person, because these people are trained to deal with these issues so you don’t have to deal with them on your own.
Make time for yourself
It can be tempting to act as normal after a massive life change, but truth be told, you need to make time to do exactly what you want to do. Throwing yourself in the deep end is not the way forward, it can make you feel worse because you are trying to actively distract yourself from the root worry that you are already feeling. Make sure you do what you feel like doing, and if that means you want to grab a coffee with a close friend, do that. If that means you want to go to the gym, then do it. Staying on your own is perfectly okay too. There is no need to justify, especially if you live with other people about what has happened, as I am sure they can understand the stresses of how you are feeling. You may even get guidance from someone, who may have experienced the same thing, so has already taken steps to continue on with normal life after a down period, which is better as first hand experience is much easier to take on, than getting advice from someone who maybe hasn’t experienced it yet.
Make work/commitments aware
If you have a job or other commitments, you need to let them know straight away. Again, it is easy to try and distract yourself with all of the extra stuff that you know needs doing, as guilt is a common symptom of loss. Remember that people are always around to help, and especially the workplace, as when you are grieving, you cannot focus in the same way you would normally. Even if you think it makes you feel better going in, you are actively avoiding the period of time you urgently need to just take time to collate your emotions.
Talk about it with someone you trust
This may take some time, as the immediate reaction you can gain from loss is complete shock and denial. Someone close to you will definitely be able to help support you in every way possible, and I am sure they wouldn’t mind if you did tear up a bit, because it is only human to get upset when something bad has happened. It helps release tension and anxiety build up.
This is where relationships can get affected, as if you don’t speak to people but you are bottling your emotions up inside, it can end up coming out in bursts and sometimes you may not know how to assert these emotions. Don’t ever feel guilty to randomly call close family or a best friend, as I’m sure if it was the other way round, you would be there to support them.
Building resilience is crucial, as this is what allows us to cope with the ups and downs of what life throws at you. If you feel like you want to get out some emotion through writing a journal, or joining an online support group, or painting, this creative outlet can be extremely beneficial for dealing with these overwhelming emotions. It can help express innate pain and be a forcing drive in continuing on with your passions, instead of leaving it and feeling more guilty. Especially when you do have a big life change, it is initially very easy to feel extremely negative about the world around you. Dealing with that pain in a manner that suits your personality and needs, can make it easier to deal with in the long run.
Try and maintain health where you can
It seems easy to say this, and the first innate reaction of people would sometimes be to consume alcohol, not eat as well as usual, and maybe stay up late at night. Try not to overly drink, as it can exaggerate those feelings that make you feel out of control. Eating well is hard when you are dealing with loss, but if you do find you have time to cook a nice meal, try it. If you are doing something positive for your body, it can make you feel outwardly positive as well, which can lift your self-esteem even just that little bit more than you may think.
Going outside as much as you can in the day is also so important. Locking yourself in your room can make you feel much worse, as even some moderate exercise releases endorphins that lift your mood, which ultimately can help you sleep better and have more energy. I would also say that going outside and seeing people, especially when you feel a bit lonely, is nicer than being cooped up inside, and it’s okay if you aren’t ready to engage with them.
Try as much as possible to rest your mind for the average amount of time. Writing a to do list for the next day can be a good way to clear your head of distractions, as your head can become quite convoluted when dealing with loss.
Take each day at a time
If you try to think too outwardly at future events, this can make you more stressed and susceptible to feeling much worse. Each day, set yourself something you can do, even if it isn’t work or university related. Only throw yourself into something when you can.
Dealing with bereavement is one of the most challenging parts of living, so do not ever feel guilty about taking your time in processing these overwhelming emotions. It is not all about being normal again after a loss, it’s about understanding the changes and being able to balance between a healthy mindset but also being aware of how you might be feeling in the meantime. It is all about learning how to live your life, even if you are grieving.
Re-building your growth is hard, but you will be able to regain some sense and meaning back into yourself. That person who has a hold on you will continue to do so, until you are ready to embrace the new normal, which is how your life currently sits.
For help and support during these times, here’s some useful resources:
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)