I originally published this piece in 2018, but decided it needed to be expanded and updated for The Time of the Coronavirus.
I’ve had a lifetime (71 years)** of losing people with whom I felt close at the final story ending. I’ve encountered many instances of people trying to be helpful yet saying exactly the wrong thing. I know they meant well…but…
Some of those words supposedly helpful on the surface contained a great deal of underlying criticism. Otherwise known as the “passive aggressive” approach to “comforting” people who are grieving.
I have some very practical suggestions about living with grief. Many of these suggestions also apply to the loss of something that deeply mattered — losing a job, losing a relationship, being forced to move, discovering betrayals of trust by people who were supposed to have my back.
Whatever loss you are grieving right now thanks to the COVID19 pandemic (including the loss of life as you knew it before March 15, 2020), I believe these basic principles might help.
I was going to say “should,” but I don’t want to place a layer of guilt onto people who haven’t felt or experienced these things [at least, not yet]. There are no “shoulds” in the world of grief and loss. What you feel [or don’t feel] toward your loss[es] is entirely appropriate regardless.
For instance, while mourning the losses of thousands of adults and children around the world, with so many yet to come, there’s nothing wrong with feeling optimistic that the pandemic and trump’s responses to it will bring him down. If you have an abusive parent, spouse or ex-spouse, sibling …or president, and you are breathing a sigh of relief, feel no guilt. You can mourn all your losses, but still breathe a sigh of relief that a “personal terrorist” is gone from your life.
There’s nothing wrong with holding onto a silver lining and hope for a better future. You need to grab silver linings whenever and wherever you can find them.
My 20 basic principles about coping with grief (the above is a theme that runs throughout many of these):