By Liane Fry, MA, LMFT, FT
Much of our collective focus since March 2019 has been on preventing, treating, and managing the impact of COVID 19. We are relieved when a sore throat is simply that, when a positive COVID test is puzzling due to an asymptotic response, or when a loved one is finally released from the hospital and on the road to recovery. One ubiquitous aspect of these COVID experiences is grief. It is foreshadowed in our anticipation of this threat and profoundly present when facing death as the final consequence of COVID.
To date, there has been nearly 651,000 deaths attributed to COVID in the United States alone. That translates into one to two people per every thousand alive. In accounting for other causes of death, including the disturbing surge in deaths from a drug overdose, our nation is facing a sea of death and the resulting pervasive grief unlike any time in recent history.
The time is ripe to take a compassionate grief inventory of ourselves and those around us. Notice your recent losses resulting from death, job loss, relationship turmoil, housing insecurity and other challenges you’ve endured. Consider the ramifications of each, notice all that has been impacted and recognize how you have adapted or adjusted despite the difficulty. Express those accompanying feelings with a trusted other or by journaling, painting it or moving your body to a rhythm of release.
Once you have turned inward, consider turning your loving attention to others. Chances are you know someone in your life who is reeling from grief. Gently ask about their losses and the impacts they are experiencing. Invite storytelling and bear witness to this sacred narrative. Offer your finely tuned ear, your company, your help or your ability to occasionally and healthfully distract them. Deeply listen, feel it, and recognize how we are all connected in loss.
The magnitude and the depth of grief can, at times, shake us to our very core. If you or someone you care about is struggling in grief, please reach out to The Elizabeth Hospice. Our counselors in Grief Services specialize in compassionately helping grievers through their struggles. Call 800-797-2050 to initiate counseling services or to join one of our loss-specific support groups.
Liane Frye, MA, LMFT, FT, is Clinical Counselor Program Supervisor with The Elizabeth Hospice. For more than 20 years, she has worked in the field of grief and loss, incorporating evidence-based practices into treatment.