Today’s Facebook Live discussion focused on the idea that grief doesn’t just come from the loss of a loved one. The recent events surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) have led us all to actually grieve the loss of the world. Nothing is the same since this pandemic took over the globe. And, it’s forever changed how we see ourselves and maybe how we greet each other and interact.

Joining us on the show today to discuss grief and the Coronavirus is David Kessler, bereaved dad and renowned grief expert.   He is the co-author, with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, of “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss.”  Following the death of his son, he needed to find meaning in the loss. This became the basis of his latest book “Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.”

What We Cannot Control

Part of the grieving process with losing the world as we once knew it has to do with the idea of a loss of control. We cannot stop it from happening, and we can’t put things back the way they were.

This happened after 9/11 in terms of the loss of security we felt once terrorists showed us what they could do to alter our lives. Now, the coronavirus, social distancing, and loss of our normal schedules have created sadness.

With the coronavirus, new problems have made these feelings worse. For example, loved ones can’t say good bye to each other or hold funerals. Those that have grief support groups can’t get to them. Many can’t go to work or wonder if they will have a way to support themselves. For these reasons, this pandemic may be worse than the grief that hit us during 9/11 or, at the very least, vastly different.

Add in Fear, Guilt, and Uncertainty

Now, combine that sensation with the fear that we or our loved ones could die. Then, there is guilt if we do contract the virus and may have inadvertently spread it to others. Finally, there is the uncertainty about what comes next, how long this will continue, and who it will affect and how dramatically.

For my daughter, Heidi, who joined David and I on the show, she already experienced many of these feelings. Then, she actually was diagnosed with the coronavirus.  Most of what she projected for herself has not happened although she still worries about whether her family may get it. Plus, there is still feelings of guilt who she might have infected.

In This Moment What We Can Do

Despite this grief over the world as we know it, there are things that we can do. First, we can move from the mindset that creates the worst-case scenarios and focus on the positive things that have happened. Second, we have to remind ourselves that we are dong okay. There is food, supplies, tests, and treatment.

Most importantly, we can reach out for peer support. This type of support is one of the best ways to cope with grief. Even if we can’t meet in person, David shares information in the video about where and how he hosts virtual grief group. This virtual hand-holding is already helping many people. Other social media channels offer similar online grief support services that can provide coping strategies, and a positive environment whee you can share your thoughts and feelings during this challenging time.

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Gloria Horsley

Dr. Gloria Horsley is an internationally known grief expert, psychotherapist, and bereaved parent. She started "Open to Hope" to help the millions in the world with grief. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Nurse Specialist, and has worked in the field of family therapy for over 20 years. Dr. Horsley hosts the syndicated internet radio show, The Grief Blog which is one of the top ranked shows on Health Voice America. She serves the Compassionate Friends in a number of roles including as a Board of Directors, chapter leader, workshop facilitator, and frequently serves as media spokesperson. Dr. Horsley is often called on to present seminars throughout the country. She has made appearances on numerous television and radio programs including "The Today Show," "Montel Williams," and "Sallie Jessie Raphael." In addition, she has authored a number of articles and written several books including Teen Grief Relief with Dr. Heidi Horlsey, and The In-Law Survival Guide.

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