The news about the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, including quarantines and regularly updated statistics about the dead and the infected, is enough to cause anyone anxiety. However, we recently had someone share their anxiety about how this news has brought back the death of their mother. Despite losing her mother a year ago from pneumonia, this new global health threat has stirred up her grief once more.

In today’s Facbook Live video, we addressed her concerns about how to address this anxiety about death and dying. Certainly, it’s common for triggers to bring grief back to the surface. In this case, those dying from the Coronavirus experience a condition that’s similar┬áto pneumonia. Plus, the media’s constant coverage with regular updates means we can’t escape the news about it. Instead, it stays on our minds and impacts those who have recently experienced the death of a loved one.

Here are some coping strategies to deal with grief when it returns during these situations:

Remember that death is normal.

We are part of a circle of life where death becomes a natural part of that cycle. These events happen, but it doesn’t mean we have to dwell on them, either.

Unplug and take a news break.

It may mean that we have to step away from the media coverage and social media news feeds where such topics are covered, over and over. Hearing the information and constant death updates doesn’t do anything but raise our fear levels about such a health threat.

Put the data into perspective.

Bring some rationality to what you are hearing. In reality, the statistics show a very small number compared to the world’s population. Even now, the Coronavirus fatalities are significantly lower than the SARS cases from 2003.

This can help put the health situation into perspective along with reminding yourself that there have yet to be deaths here and that many around the world are being proactive about stopping the virus in its tracks. It’s a good way to alleviate those fears about dying because you can realize there is an extremely low chance of dying from the Coronavirus.

Reach out for support.

If you have suffered a loss in the recent past but stopped seeing a therapist or participating in a grief group, consider reaching out again for that support. Even friends and family members can listen and provide comfort. Additionally, there are Facebook support groups for different types of grief, including one for the loss of parents.

We appreciate having one of our audience members reach out to us with this concern and the emotions they were facing in light of the Coronavirus and losing their mother. Think of us as a support group, too. We are here to listen and provide advice on how to cope with these emotional experiences.

Take care of yourself.

Be proactive about your own health by drinking plenty of water, opting for healthy foods, and focusing on good sleep. Take the time to go for walks and exercise because these activities help recalibrate your hormones to balance your emotional responses and quell that anxiety.

Also, consider doing other things that distract you from these thoughts like write in a journal, read, and spend time with friends.

Be aware, but take care.

It’s good that we can get information online about these epidemics so we are aware of potential health dangers when traveling or visiting others. However, we also have to take care of ourselves and balance the information to minimize the focus on death and dying.




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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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