For everything there is a season… a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep; and a time to laugh; a time to mourn; and a time to dance….
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
COVID – 19 has brought unprecedented changes for millions of people around the world. I think you
would agree that when a major change occurs, something old often gets destroyed or taken away. As a result, your life as it was, is no more. In this sense, change means loss.
Our natural reaction to loss is grief. Depending on the nature of what’s lost, grief can manifest itself as various degrees of shock, denial, sadness, anger, loneliness, guilt, shame, anxiety, confusion, etc., making transition an emotionally rollercoaster.
In my work as mental health counsellor, I saw this happen all the time: following a major change, people would first go through a grief process, often intensely painful. I’ve lost count of the number of occasions I’ve guided my counselling clients through this process until they finally arrived at the place of acceptance and resolution.
To grieve is to be human.
I can also honestly say that if we had a choice, every one of us would rather skip the grief process entirely, or at least fast forward it to the end. I wish that were possible.
Trying to avoid grieving what’s lost just doesn’t work. It’s like trying to paint your house without first scraping out the old paint and cleaning the surface of the walls – you think this will save you time and work, but the new paint you put on won’t stick; you’ll most likely have to redo it later.
Any experienced painter would tell you that actually, scraping and cleaning the surface to be painted is the bulk of the work. When you have done that properly, putting on new paint would be a breeze. Well, maybe not as easy as that sounds, but it would last.
Pain is a sign that healing is needed. When you take the time to heal after a major change has occurred, you’re properly preparing the surface of your life to paint it a brand new color.
Here are some quick Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate through grief:
- Do take good care of yourself.
Eat well. Get plenty of rest. Engage in physical and pleasurable activities. Pamper yourself. Good self-care is essential to combat the extra stress and strain grief put on you and to ensure your long-term wellbeing.
- Do adjust your expectations.
Set realistic expectations for how many responsibilities you can take on. Grief itself is hard work. Make adjustment accordingly.
- Do reach out to your support network.
Don’t have one in place? What can you do to start building one?
- Do tap into your faith
You may be mad at Whom you believe right now, consider turning towards Him/Her/It for solace and strength anyway. It’s usually more helpful than turning away.
- Do allow yourself to feel the pain
When the wave of pain surges up, stay put. Let the wave wash over you. It will soon subside if you don’t resist. Breath. Cry. Tears will bring relief. Just make sure that you stay hydrated.
Grief is like credit card balance; you either pay it off now or pay it later with high interest.
- Do take breaks from feeling the pain
With a major loss, grief is a full-time job. You need downtime from doing grief work. Take some time every day to do something you enjoy, something that relaxes you. It’s ok to laugh when you feel like it. Having some fun is ok. Doing so will help you better face another day. And one day at the time, you’ll get through anything.
- Do maintain a routine
Having a routine will give you a sense of control. Feeling in control is especially important if you’ve experienced a loss that has turned your world upside down.
- Do maintain a positive outlook.
Remember that you are still you. This too shall pass. The sun will come out again. The best is yet to come.
- Don’t self-medicate with substances, gambling, and over-work. Doing so will backfire and can seriously undermine your health and wellbeing.
- Don’t ruminate and entertain negative thoughts.
This is hard to do. See if it helps to ask yourself these questions:
“How do I feel when I think this way?” “Do I want to feel this way?” “what can I think/do instead?”
And most importantly,
- Do reach out for professional help when you feel stuck, overwhelmed, and hopeless. There is simply no replacement of being listened to and skillfully guided through the treacherous landscape of grief by a compassionate and caring professional. You deserve that care.
The best time to engage in coaching is when you’re well on your way to recover from your loss and feel ready to start taking actions to achieve a new goal. Until then, the best thing you can do is taking the time to heal.
Change is inevitable, whether you choose it or it chooses you. If you are ready to embrace change and embark on the journey of transitioning into a brighter future, contact me for a complimentary consultation to find out whether I’d be a good fit to serve you.
To learn more about coaching, please go to our Service page.
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