Grief is many times only thought of when a person passes away. However, grief can be applied in many situations, especially right now amid Coronavirus. Job loss or reduction in hours, being disconnected from friends and family, staying at home while working, reduced income, plans that have been canceled, etc. are all losses. Sometimes it is easy to pinpoint, but this general uneasiness and uncertainty people are feeling is probably grief. Grief has five stages, denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance.
The first stage is denial. No one was planning for this virus to take over our lives as it has with so many changes. You probably feel confused, upset, and overwhelmed. Denial is a way we protect ourselves from facing something that has happened. Making decisions and taking action during this time might be very difficult and you may find yourself having a hard time doing simple routine tasks.
Stage two is anger. It is natural to feel angry about the situation. Many times in the anger stage we want to blame someone or something. Anger can be caused by feeling unappreciated, manipulated, or uncared for. It is important to acknowledge feelings of anger and find an appropriate way to express it.
The third stage is bargaining. Bargaining is full of “What if” and “If only” statements. “What if” I did this or “if only” I did that, then my situation might be different. Many may look outside themselves and ask for help, for some this would be pleading to their higher power.
Stage four is depression. When our routines are interrupted like going to work in an office every day to working at home, working in one area of a business and being moved to another area, or seeing family regularly and now visiting through a window, we may withdraw and become isolated which may lead to depression.
The fifth stage of the grieving process is acceptance. When you arrive at acceptance you are more able to explore and consider options. Before this, you may have not been open to taking action. As the acceptance stage progresses, a new plan begins to take shape or, at the very least, people are open to new options. Ideally, this is the best stage to talk about the future.
Many people feel that these steps go in order, which is not always the case. Some might start with bargaining while others might start with denial. You may also jump around from anger to depression back to anger to denial. It is not a linear process. One thing to make sure is that we are not getting “stuck” in one stage. There is no right or wrong amount of time we spend on each stage, but if we simply cannot seem to move out of a stage to another, it might be a good idea to seek some support. This time will pass and things will get better. It is important to know that you are not in this alone!