Grieving our normal lives during the coronavirus

Coronavirus has flipped our lives upside down in the past few months. Most areas of our lives have changed dramatically, including our work, school and social lives. With all these changes, it is not uncommon to experience higher than normal feelings of anxiety, irritability and sadness.

Along with sadness, a number of us may be experiencing feelings of grief due to recent losses.

When we hear the word grief, we often think of the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship. With the coronavirus pandemic, we have experienced grief due to the loss of our "normal" lives.

We are experiencing the loss of our schedules, routines and typical relationships. Some of us are grieving the loss of security and sense of safety.

The idea of grieving our normal lives and routines may seem unfair given the thousands of people who have contracted COVID-19, the individuals who have died from the virus and countless others working in the medical field to save the lives of these individuals.

It is important to grant ourselves grace by recognizing that although you may not have lost as much as others, your loss is still significant. Your loss still matters. It is OK to grieve what you have lost.

Children are especially vulnerable to this grief. Their limited ability to recognize and process the current pandemic impacts their ability to understand why this is happening. Children certainly see how the pandemic is impacting them, though. They are not attending school, they can't play at the park, and they are unable see their friends and extended family.

Let your children know that it is OK to feel sad about these losses. It is OK for them to cry because they miss their friends or miss hugs from their grandparents. Then give yourself that same grace.

Give yourself permission to think about what you have lost since the pandemic began. Perhaps you have had to cancel vacations, trips or other plans. You probably have not been able to continue your regular routine. It is likely your relationships have changed, including who you spend your time with and how you spend your time with them.

Give yourself permission to cry if you feel the need. Then, recognize the areas of your life that have continued or even improved since the pandemic began.

Perhaps you really enjoy virtual visits with your parents. Maybe you love your daily walks around the neighborhood. You may be enjoying spending more time with your family, reading, trying out new recipes or simply the slower pace of life right now.

Find time to enjoy the new pleasures in your life while also recognizing the losses you have experienced.

- by Jessica Butts, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker with Linden Oaks Behavioral Health