In coping with grief and fear prompted by the current pandemic, we can help ourselves by realizing we have a great deal to be grateful for. (Pixabay image)

Column: Dealing with grief and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic

Opening Our Eyes by Nan Dickie

By Nan Dickie


Each of us has experienced a very wide range of emotions in the past six months, beginning with worry and anxiety, no doubt leading to stress, all in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We quickly became overwhelmed by new and frightening information.

In the past several months, scientists, researchers and public health officials have learned a great deal about the virus and how it’s transmitted. We, as individuals, try to make sense of what we hear and see, which changes daily. It’s enough to make our heads spin.

Amidst all that is going on out there in the world, it’s important to step back from it now and then, and ask what the emotional effect of this ongoing pandemic has been on us personally.

Our emotional responses and reactions to this incredible upheaval in our lives are very complex and, perhaps, confusing, as we are in a never-before situation.

Two emotions that we all are experiencing, if we are truthful with ourselves, are grief and fear.

It may be tempting to try to run away from feeling them, but doing so only allows them to fester and spread within us, just as the virus spreads like wildfire outside us.

There are concrete ways for us to cope with our grief and fear. First, we need to accept that each of those emotions is a natural response to the pandemic.

Read more: Column: What we are now experiencing is grief

Read more: Column: Making the most of this new normal

Grief is comprised of other emotions such as anger, frustration and sadness. We need to name, face and experience these emotions in order to work through them. Grief is not a one-time event; it’s a process. So we have to get used to it.

We can share our grief, and realize we are not alone with it. We need to adjust as well as we can to the losses we have named, and may continue to experience. No small task.

Similarly with fear, we need to name what we are afraid of. Most blatantly, we fear getting the virus, or that someone close to us may do so. We must accept that the risk is not nil.

On top of this, we may fear another lockdown and the dreaded second wave.

We may have other, more subtle fears, such as fearing our lives might stagnate given all the necessary restrictions placed on us, or fearing we will never be able to truly connect with our friends and loved ones in a carefree way again.

While we experience grief and loss, we can help ourselves by realizing we have a great deal to be grateful for. COVID has not hit B.C.’s Interior hard, partly because most people are being diligent in following prescribed protocols. For the most part, people do consider the common good. These are things to be very grateful for.

Nan Dickie is a local author, speaker and former facilitator of a Salmon Arm depression support group.

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