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COVID / Mental Health

5 Steps To Tackling Grief In A Pandemic (Socially Distanced Style)

"I’m fumbling along, but I’ve discovered some things that might be useful."

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Written By Lucy Myers.

Art By Aubrey Casazza.

One month before lockdown, my dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. I was extremely lucky to get to give him a funeral and say goodbye. But as soon as lockdown happened I realised I was out of my depth. I was away from my family and the comforts of home and I felt isolated in my grief. Dealing with the collective grief and anxiety over the pandemic, and the fear of more grief for me and everyone. The world has become a place where grief is pervasive. For many, funerals and memorials were banned. Families were separated and distractions from grief eliminated. We had to adapt and fast to a new way of living and for those of us suffering loss, a new way of grieving. 

I’m no expert on grief and I have struggled immensely with my mental health in this period. It’s a battle, but we aren’t alone. I’m fumbling along, but I’ve discovered some things that might be useful.

1.  Organised Sadness

At this point in the pandemic, the thought of another scheduled zoom call makes me want to vomit. I’ve never been great at organised fun, so I thought I’d try organised sadness instead! Since wakes, memorials and grave visiting are off the table, it can be helpful to still make time with your friends/family to grieve collectively. Make it physical–light a candle, hold up a photo, or pour a drink in your loved ones honour. My mother once suggested we set out a space (plate of food included) for the spirit of my dead grandmother.

2.  Find URL Friends Instead of IRL

 There’s a saying: When you’re going through hard times, that’s when you find out who your real friends are. This can be true: different friends are for different things. No one person can provide you with everything you need. Often people who haven’t experienced grief don’t know how to comfort you, and that’s okay. There are some great places online where you can find people going through the same thing. You can find solace in reading and watching others who have also experienced grief, making you feel less alone. Also, if you see anyone on Instagram or Twitter grieving, reach out! The words that have meant the most to me at this time have come from those who understand. 

3. Time to Shrine

It’s hard to pull yourself into different head spaces when you’re stuck at home most of the time. You somehow have to do a full time job and attempt to live your life in the same rooms, while trying to keep the waves of grief away for long enough to get it all done. Set up a space in your room for them. If you’re spending most of your time indoors, make a place in your bedroom–a space to feel their presence and mourn them in comfort and privacy. Use candles on your altar, or just print out a photo. Whatever works for you. There’s no right way to grieve, but having a physical space to process your emotions can be helpful. 

4. Art Attack

This one does what it says on the tin. Make art however you know how. Scrapbook like your life depends on it. Write out all your feelings in a journal. Draw and paint – even if like me, you can’t do art for shit! It’s cathartic to visually and physically expel your feelings. Grief is heavy.  Allow yourself time to let some of it out. 

5.  Build Boundaries, Not Walls

You’re not accessible 24/7 just because you’re at home. Take time off from work, from friends, from social media. It’s okay to take your time to reply to people.  They’ll understand and if they don’t that’s their problem. This goes both ways. You might also find that people have reached out less than you would expect. We’re all collectively dealing with a lot right now. Be patient, especially with your black, queer and trans friends. You never know what other people are going through. Set boundaries for yourself and let others have theirs.

There’s no time limit! So, whether you experienced a loss of a dad, a friend, a pet, one month ago or ten years ago, the most important thing I’ve learned is to be gentle with yourself. There is no right way to grieve. Never underestimate how well you know yourself–if it works for you, then it’s the right thing for you.


About The Author

Lucy Myers (she/her) is a libran, bisexual, cat mum living in London. A receptionist by day and a writer by night. Follow her Instagram for more writing, selfies and cat content.

Follow on IG: @lucyjanemyers


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