Grieving the loss of those we love is painful, depleting, lonely. 

Missing their presence, support, the sound of their voice, their touch. 

Grieving the loss of what was and this new normal that feels anything but normal.

The pandemic has complicated and intensified the grieving process.

Ambiguous loss (a loss that lacks clarity or resolution) compounds grief and mourning. In addition to trying to reorient to life after the death of your loved one there is now a need to adapt to necessary limitations to avoid getting sick. This compounded loss of “normal” (social isolation, limited access to your support system: family, friends, colleagues, ritual, daily routine, hobbies) adds another dimension to the challenges of living forward in grief. 

There is a need to accept what we can not change or control and the resourcefulness and resilience to find ways to manage the very real pain, frustration and disappointment without giving up or acting out in ways that further isolate.

No matter what is going on around us we always have the power of choice. We can choose to allow rage to fill us, or apathy, self-pity, hopelessness, but this will not bring solace or change. 

Your self-talk and ability to reframe can be helpful.

I feel trapped: In this moment I am not trapped. I can go outside, go for a drive, walk in my neighborhood or at a walking park. If unable to leave your home you still have choices. I can read a book, watch TED Talks, shows and movies, listen to music and podcasts.

I have choices.

I am all alone: In this moment I can call, facetime, or text family and friends. I can reach out to clergy. I can find an online support group or club. I can play online games.

I have choices.

I feel hopeless: In this moment I am safe. I am able to care for myself or ask for help. I can get through one day at a time. I can recognize that I do not have a crystal ball so there is no reason to accept the notion that life will not get better. I can remind myself that I am 100% successful at getting through my worst moments.

I have choices.

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. ~Nelson Mandela

Your thoughts are powerful. They impact your perception, how you feel physically and mentally. 

I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. ~Anne Frank

Practicing daily gratitude is a choice that does not dismiss or deny pain, frustration, loneliness.The practice of gratitude makes us more resilient, stronger, healthier, kinder and happier people.

Write the names of three people you are grateful for in your life (family, friends, neighbors, supportive medical or care team, clergy, people you may not know but who inspire, make you laugh, provide comfort, validation). 

Identify three things you are grateful for but are often overlooked (shelter, access to food, clean water, medical care, positive distractions such as TV, computer, music, books).

Write down your 3 favorite books, songs, movies, meals, vacations and your memories associated with them. Share with others.

Express gratitude. Reach out to those who have treated you with consideration, kindness, support and thank them. The expression of gratitude feels so good and is a meaningful way to pay it forward. 

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough. ~Meister Eckhart

It feels empowering to set and accomplish goals.

Set 3 daily goals: shower, make your bed, buy meals for the week, clean out the junk drawer, read a chapter in a book, call a friend, schedule a doctor’s appointment, pay a bill, go for a walk. Whatever your daily goals, make them doable so that every day you feel a sense of accomplishment. 

The only way through is through. One choice at a time. 

You do have choices and you can do this!