Giving in to Grief and Loss: Permission to Be Vulnerable

COVID-19 has created many changes. We are washing our hands frequently, wearing masks, and staying at home. Unfortunately, these changes may be permanent. As a result, we cope with grief and loss in many ways. Current events have made our grief and loss more intense, leaving us vulnerable.

What Do We Do Now?

How do we take care of ourselves while coping with everything around us? How do we take care of others who are affected by internal and external grief? Can we find meaning in this grief and loss?

What is the Purpose?

When we think about the why behind the changes, is it any easier to cope? As the saying goes, “He who has a why can bear any how.” Thinking about the continued meaning and purpose behind the precautions, isolation, and continued restrictions may help. If I understand that by wearing a mask, I am protecting others. If I remember that washing my hands reduces risks, it may be easier to continue.

Giving In to Vulnerability

In some cases, a coping mechanism may be to compare our grief, loss, and situations against what others are coping with. Is it easier to cope when we think what others are facing? Are we denying our own grief and loss to help accommodate others’ grief and loss?

By focusing or superseding one person’s loss or grief over our own may help others, but if we continue to deny ourselves the ability to be vulnerable to our pain and anxiety, it is not healthy. What helps others may help you. Is it laughter? Is it enjoying something? It is more than permissible to find joy amidst pain and sorrow.

Letting Go

Help yourself by letting your feelings and pain matter as you help others do the same. Give yourself space to grieve when you can. If need be, forgive yourself for being vulnerable. It may be easier to keep a façade of strength but that can only last for so long. And it will not likely outlast the COVID-19 quarantine.

Kathy Dreyer, Ph.D., is the Director of Strategic Projects at AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, which develops and delivers innovative research-based aging and dementia training programs such as Dementia Live® and Compassionate Touch®, for professional and family caregivers; kathy.dreyer@ageucate.com

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