Coping with death, grief, and loss during the times of lockdown
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” – Nietzsche
During these times of uncertainty, living with a pandemic in social isolation, we are all collectively experiencing challenges in how life is changing drastically every moment. One of the greatest traumas striking us today is losing our loved ones to the pandemic. Grieving the loss of a loved one taken by illness adds more grief than loss of freedom, loss of social connection or loss of opportunities in this crisis. Thriive experts Anu Sachar and Shweta Chopra share their insights on how to cope with the loss, view it spiritually and the learnings that follow.
Anu Sachar, a Life Coach and NLP trainer said, “During a crisis, it is important to grieve what has been lost, and it is also important to find meaning and hope in how life is changing. We must find a why to live during the unsettling time.”
A powerful ritual to honour the departed loved one’s journey and integrating the irreplaceable loss in our lives. Grieving reflects the extreme pain of loss. A person’s grief is personal and incomparable to any one else’s. It’s a loss and what it means to each of us to go without, to miss, to be separated, to be disappointed, to feel lonely and bereft.
Grieving exists since we love
Grief is normal. Grieving the loss of what we care about connects us deeper within. To avoid grieving, means avoiding love. Our funerals today are isolated rituals.
Grieving heals our loss
Grief is a powerful, painful, and deep experience, something each of us goes through to integrate our losses into our lives.
Grieving in self isolation
Being in close physical proximity with friends or other mourners helps produce feel-good hormones like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin that completes closure with the departed soul. When people aren’t physically present to say goodbye and grieve with other mourners, they may be more likely to experience a sense of extreme loss, making it very hard to get closure. Resulting loneliness, frustration and helplessness will be disempowering perhaps resulting in prolonged grief which may lead to a lingering sense that more loss is still to come. That sense of fearful anticipation is called “anticipatory grief,” which may form the basis of clinical depression.
Few things to practice while grieving in the current pandemic crisis
Acknowledging that grieving at this time is more challenging than coping with loss outside a health crisis. With higher levels of stress and anxiety to contend with, practicing self-compassion is helpful in coping with extreme emotions. Being extra kind to ourselves and ensuring self talk with deep compassion helps overcome grief.
These are unprecedented times. Expect extreme mixed feelings. Feeling anxiety, panic, will build stress and loneliness. Failing to acknowledge the additional stress associated with the pandemic runs the risk of blaming ourselves for something not within our control. Accepting what is and acknowledging all related emotions like anger, fear, anxiety etc. will provide a powerful outlet for grief.
Appreciate what we have and continue to count our blessings, resources and all loves ones in our lives. Being present to ourselves unconditionally and to others in this time of uncertainty and flux, will create strength to overcome grief.
Understand that this is a hard time for everyone. We are all in this together and we may all emerge with a renewed appreciation from our interconnectedness. Helping others in need can ease grieving and reinforce our life purpose. As life changes we appreciate what is truly valuable and meaningful in life.We can all get through this difficult time, hopeful that we may all gain a greater appreciation for our propose and emerge stronger through this crisis.
Embrace the new normal
Looking after ourselves, is to look after us all. Even as we grieve in the current crisis, we are using technology to reach out to extended family. Grieving is taking place virtually during social isolation. Anticipatory grief and further loneliness are paving way to reconsider new ways of family caregiving.
Radical acceptance of the situation we cannot control, and focus on what we can do will keep us grounded in the here and now. Listing out of what we can and cannot control and new ways to live during social isolation will hone our intuition and creativity in more ways than it has in the past. Being open, flexible will help us embrace the change and transform ourselves to a higher collective consciousness.
Join groups that assist in grieving
There are many virtual groups that are platforms to share details about the departed loved one, express all emotions, thoughts and vent openly in a group that ensures psychological safety.
Reach out to life coaches, counsellors and medical experts for coping with grief if it continues to be intense and disrupts life beyond the normal grieving period.
Death is a gift
According to Shweta Chopra, Life Coach and Hypnotherapist, “Death is a complicated subject for the most because first it’s not an everyday thing in someone’s life and second we still haven’t come to terms with the acceptance of death. It is a profound transforming transition phase for the soul. And everyone who is involved in this transition, directly or indirectly, has some level of responsibility for the passing soul and the gift of life that is still available with the others. This responsibility a doctor, nurse, police or crematorium feels for the above is beyond their own powers. They have disciplined their whole lives to be able to stand up to such extreme moments.”
So, as a result of their strict rules and regulations, we, as loved ones, will eventually feel triggered because we recognize that deep down somewhere both of our helplessness is matching. Our expectations have just been shattered. We feel disappointed in the system. The grief that we felt because of the passing of loved one has just become multiplied. Even though everyone go on expressing their grief in multitude of emotions and develop their own coping mechanisms which can be both healthy or otherwise, Chopra suggest three cyclic steps to be followed at all times until this phase has passed.
Follow 1-2-3 and anytime one feels struck at any step, step back on previous step. When 3rd phase is finally completed then restart with step 1. This way, slowly the reality will start feeling less grim and overwhelming.
Accept that whatever is happening is a part of present. Accept that everyone is doing their best to save as many lives as possible. If more people allowed, reality can become harder to cope if someone else in the family got affected too.
Check with yourself if you’re not going into the anticipatory grief (AG) that you’re reliving the grief in your mind first before something worst can happen. Anytime, you find yourself falling in AG, immediately go back to Reality check. Allow emotions to follow motion, cry, express grief. Anytime, you find yourself suppressing emotions, again go back to reality check.
When our mind and heart is in sync with the awareness of reality and our emotional state, we are more open to accept everything that just happened with us. By giving a meaning, negative and intense emotions become open ended, making us open to accept the other realities and cope better. Anytime giving a meaning feels wrong, immediately go back to emotion check. After first closure, head back to reality check again with new reality we have just unlocked in our minds.
Spiritually, each and everyone of us is pushed to stand in our bigger picture reality. Death, as people feel it as life-threatening. Death of a loved one seems wrong, unjustified and untimely to us even if it’s normal death or otherwise because it’s not everyday that people experience deaths in their closed circles. When a loved one passes, it has been seen that the soul always knows unconsciously that when and how it is going to depart. This is how the soul has devised its soul contact and once life lesson is over, it must progress ahead. But, we as loved and attached ones left behind, the other reality appears imaginable so most of the time what we feel is our own emotions and may even make the soul who is just about to depart more fearful. Emotions are very contagious.
Favourable emotions attract favorable circumstances
If one is about to pass, then try to come in peace with it yourself and pass on same to the passing person. It is scarier for them so equip them with your love, not fear, for their forward journey. Do it even if you don’t believe in any soul business. Once the death has become a reality, follow the three steps of reality and emotion check to transmute. A meaning always gives a lesson to the people. Life appears bigger than what we just experienced.
Do not expect yourself to be strong, but vigilant. It has now become your responsibility to respect your own life, the other loved ones and giving a health closure to the soul so that it can pass into the light.
Vigilance and vulnerability are great tools when in complex grief. Maintaining an equilibrium is like building a discipline. You do it regardless of motivation. You can express grief while being in discipline.
Plan a set of guidelines for yourself that you will do whenever you feel disoriented. You just have to mechanically reach there without investing emotions and thoughts. Keep emergency numbers on speed dial. Routinely check on everyone and just share with any projected worry. Shared grief makes it a little less harder to express with everyone. Take things lightly. Do more of what used to make you feel at peace when in tensed situations.
Repressed emotions lowers the life force energy, eventually manifesting themselves as physical ailments in the body and weakening the immune system even more. It is important to do a self-body scan so that one can release the emotions.
How do I feel?
How do I know?
What do I feel? (Kind of sensations)
Where do I feel it? (Body location)
Where in my body did it begin? and where is it now?
Intentionally experience the repressed emotions on these body location so that they can come to the surface. Flow until the that body part eventually starts feeling light.
Allow the emotions to overflow
Most importantly allow the emotions to overflow so that it can release completely. Cry when you must. Be angry when you must. Do it all as and when you feel it, in the now. When you’ll be in a better emotional state, you’ll be able to offer more of support to other loved ones. Do it for yourself and them.
Focus on those who care
Focus on only those who are communicating for the time being. If someone is not talking, it is their perspective and issue, and can be dealt later. The people who actually care don’t compromise relationships on such temporary scenarios. So contact only those who are willingly there for you. You simply have to ignore, not even blame or feel hurt for them, because at this moment your energy is low and precious, redirect it only where you feel love, connection and closure.
Keep yourself busy
Daily chores itself are a great practice in themselves as they develop the sense of discipline in people. Do one chore at a time with great focus even if it feel like a futile task. Do not overwhelm yourself with multitask now. This gives the body willpower to remain in motion when exercising and yoga feels too much. One would want to compromise their own health because they feel it is part of grief, but grief is subjective and we subconsciously make our own rules to meet our emotional states. If we made it, we can change too. Meditate daily to keep yourself centred. There is nothing which can help more than this one practice but if you can’t make yourself to, it’s okay, just sit with closed eyes as long as you can and watch your emotions as they come and go.
Soul plan and transformation
Souls travel and incarnate in groups, playing many relationship roles in different lives with the same person. Collectively, all are heading towards the source and their modality is growth in consciousness. Complex and hard lives often given many life lessons and more growth. A soul which has chosen the accelerated way of growth can be anyone. Just because the heavy veil of forgetfulness makes us forget the afterlife and past life, our souls subconsciously remember and follow everything that it has planned for itself.
Love is a perpetual emotion, which can be expressed without attachment too. Our attachment is generally our own need. But if we realize that our attachment can make a soul confused about passing onto the light then it end up becoming the earthbound. Do we really want this for our loved ones, trapped in-between, where the pain, grief, and confusion is extremely heightened? Because of the nature of that dimension, they can not even express themselves as we can while still being alive. So, we must try to focus on transitioning of them first, not about us, and send more love which you originally feel for them. You will meet them in future lives if they do not get trapped here. Loved ones always unite in afterlife whatever the circumstances.
Hypnotherapy and Vipassana
Any modality which can give a person more spiritual experience of the bigger picture reality of life must be used. As the person has already tried several psychological processes themselves and they’re mentally in better states. Emotions take more time to heal. So, a hypnotherapy session focusing on the closure of emotion can actually help a person to give closure. If one can, then join Vipassana meditation retreat. Join group circles oriented towards experiencing and transmuting the pain and emotions. People often experience transcendental transformations in these groups and witnessing it will motivate one towards the direction of healing themselves from the root. The soul might have passed but it sowed a seed of transformation and growth in you. That was your contract with them.
Helping kids cope with the loss
Do not tell kids right away of the loss. Most the times, they know because they can see you grieving. Allow them to follow their routine lifestyle and slowly introduce the positive terminologies for the passing when you yourself have started practicing the thought interventions. Focus on gratitude, love, compassion and healing as much as you can while communicating with them. Small kids are very impressionable, as their minds are mostly in Alpha states, and absorb the information more visually. What you want them to accept, you would have to sometime start practicing that around them. They will follow in the picture which you will paint for them.
Service to others
Eventually, the individual loss is adding to the collective loss. We all are collectively grieving for the society. There is never a better time to reach out to anyone possible at this time who might need you. Transmute your service to self towards service to others. Service to others is in alignment with the new frequency level of our planetary consciousness. The transition is indeed depressive and full of frustration but this will eventually phase out and give way to the new way of living we have never witnessed in the history of our time. Express your gratitude for these moments even in grief. This too shall pass!
Death is difficult, so we need to equip ourselves to learn to deal with it and make it easier for us. If you wish to connect with our therapists, please CLICK HERE.