The HerMoney team recently spent the morning bonding over this article in the Harvard Business Review because it helped explain what so many of us have been thinking and feeling these last few weeks. Since the coronavirus hit, we’ve all felt a combination of emotions, including anxiety, worry, and grief, and there have been times when we’ve felt downright selfish about it. (Or at least I know I have.) In the article, grief expert David Kessler tells us that, yes, what we’re experiencing right now is a form of grief, among many other complicated emotions, and that, no, we’re not alone.
Grief, a term typically associated with the loss of a loved one, can mean many things and can appear in our lives for different reasons and manifest itself in different ways. For example, currently because of coronavirus, people worldwide are emotionally grieving the loss of normalcy, the loss of a schedule, the loss of community, and the loss of control.
In a time of such uncertainty, it’s important to get in touch with and to understand your emotions and feelings around coronavirus. Kessler explains in the article that there are two different types of grief you could be experiencing. In addition to the grief you’re feeling over the life you’ve temporarily “lost,” you might also be feeling anticipatory grief, which is the emotional fear of things that you could lose in the coronavirus pandemic. Whatever you’re mourning, it’s normal, and it’s important that you honor those things you’re feeling. For example, you might be mourning the loss of your college graduation or your senior prom. Maybe you were supposed to have your dream wedding this month and are no longer able to, or the vacation you’ve been planning for months just got cancelled.
As our Editor-in-Chief, Kathryn Tuggle, put it, “It’s possible to feel sad about the things you’re missing, while also having reverence for the people whose lives have tragically been cut short. The two are not mutually exclusive. Human emotions are vast and complex enough that we can both be sad about the cancellation of something we were looking forward to and also grieve for lost loved ones. It’s not selfish — it’s just part of the breadth and depth of human emotion. We all deserve to take a moment and grieve for our lost experiences, lost income, and possibly our postponed retirement plans… Then we can get back to the ‘bigger picture’ when we feel we’re ready. And most importantly, it’s OK to not be OK.”
To combat the grief you’re likely experiencing as a result of coronavirus and isolation, Kessler recommends a few practices for your mental health. First, focus on coming into the present and living in the moment. This will help you to remember what you do have and all that you have to be thankful for. Find balance in your thinking and let go of the things over which you have no control. Finally, channel all of the compassion you’ve got and spread the love. Doing so will make you, and others, feel great.
We also spoke to Dr. Barbara Greenberg about other things we can do to stay calm and to keep our emotions at bay during the coronavirus quarantine. Here’s what she had to say:
- Develop and stick to a routine and daily schedule. This gives people a sense of control and purpose.
- Limit the amount of exposure to news media. Too much news is overwhelming and tends to increase anxiety.
- Connect with people regularly via phone calls, FaceTime, or Skype. It’s important to remain emotionally connected while still physically distancing.
- Try to engage in self-care, whatever that means for you. That should certainly include eating well and sleeping enough.
- Try to find a TV show, podcast, book or another outlet that will offer you some distance from the current reality. We all need breaks.
- Remain hopeful. Things will change, and you should think about how you will weave the current state of events into your life story.
And if you’re feeling down, head to our HerMoney private Facebook group to connect with thousands of women whose insight and sense of humor are sure to brighten your spirits, or to our HerMoney Instagram account, that’s filled with fun and inspiring content to get you through.