by Chaplain Julia Rajtar
Grief is powerful and is related to the specific loss we have experienced. Grief is a natural response to loss, and reflects our behaviors, thoughts and emotions related to that loss. When someone we love dies, we all grieve and our grief will be different, even as members of the same family. When one person is crying and another isn’t, that doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. And when one person brings up stories and memories often and another doesn’t, it doesn’t mean one is grieving better than the other. When one is out running or fixing the broken chair in the shop, or chopping extra wood that may not really be needed, that doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. Each of us grieves in our own way and it is important to respect and accept that each of us may grieve differently.
A pandemic can make grieving a little more complex, sometimes, we weren’t able to be physically present when a loved one was dying, or only one family member could be present with the dying person. Sometimes we have had to delay the funeral. Sometimes those who would normally be present at a visitation or service aren’t able to be there physically but are virtually.
Coping with Grief through HEALING
In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, Dr. Katherine Shear, Founder and Director of the Center for Complicated Grief, discusses Grieving Those Lost From The Pandemic. She poses that using the acronym HEALING, offers a model of coping with grief. She stresses that these are not orderly, can occur in and out, back and forth, and not in any predictable way. Healing stands for:
Honor your loved one and yourself and discover your own interests or rediscover them
Ease emotional pain, good idea to open yourself to emotions both the pleasant and painful ones, and trust that you can deal with them. Grief is very emotional.
Accept grief and let it find a place in your heart. Its with us for the rest of our lives, not always center stage, but can resurface at times and then move into the background.
Learn to live with reminders of your loss. You find reminders everywhere, in expected & unexpected places and we need to learn to live with the reminders.
Integrate memories of your loved one and allow them to enrich your life, helping you learn and grow
Narrate stories of the death for yourself that helps you accept the reality. In the beginning, these stories are unbelievable and unthinkable. Gradually we have to come to terms with the painful reality and it helps to share the story of the death with those closest to you, yet not everybody
Gather others around you, connect with your community, let the friends and family who are closest to you support you
These tasks are necessary to help in grief and can assist in remembering and honoring loved ones, who have died during this Covid pandemic.
For more information about healing, listen to the Podcast at Grieving Those Lost From The Pandemic, Wisconsin Public Radio, visit the Center for Complicated Grief, or visit our local grief support page.