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The vaccines are arriving and the Spring weather is holding the promise of more ease in our travels. The children will be going back to school in actual classrooms, and they are lucky enough now, or will be soon, to have a school building that ensures their safety.
Some of my clients have had to completely change the way in which they did their jobs… and they have done so. Restaurants are reopening their patio spaces for diners, and many of the retail shops are allowing the public back into their stores. We have adjusted to having to make decisions that include conscious choice for ordinary tasks. Like grocery shopping… on line? or in person?
Outwardly, things seem to “look” a little more normal.
But clearly, there is still much to consider for ourselves as individuals and for ourselves as a society as the pandemic experience draws nearer to the end of its cycle. We will get through this, but there will be issues and things we must face and resolve if we are to function as healthy whole persons living our lives and building (or rebuilding) our future from a conscious and loving way of being.
As one woman I know who has been a hospital nurse for years shared, “There was nothing in my years of training to prepare me for this. Having to witness the loss of so many people…who were normal and healthy just the week before they entered the hospital…has had a profound effect on me. I am stronger than I thought, more dedicated than ever to my job, and at the same time profoundly aware of my fragility and emotional self.”
In my clientele I have become more aware of how important it is to find ways in which we can support each other in all the different areas of grief and loss situations.
Grief is a normal response to losing someone who has been important to you. With the outbreak of COVID 19, we have become acutely aware of our friends and neighbors losing their parents, their siblings, their life partners and sometimes their children.
Culturally normal ways of honoring these individuals and saying goodbye has also been disrupted. Family members are encouraged to arrange funerals via internet access and to forgo the traditional celebrations and activities that help the surviving family and community members recover. In some cases, these time-honored rituals are replaced with platitudes and advice.
But the great majority of the well-meaning people around us do not have successful grief recovery experiences to share.
Our current society has a history of teaching us that having sad, painful, or negative feelings and showing them are somehow not appropriate. Many of my clients have shared stories of childhood experiences of being shamed for expressing emotions. Little boys are taught to never be afraid and young girls are admonished for feeling and expressing anger. And so, as adults, we are unprepared to deal with loss and grief in healthy ways.
During this pandemic and the isolation practices needed to survive this experience, many people experience multiple losses. They may have been unable to be with a loved one during the hospitalization or the death of that person. Other types of loss include unemployment, loss of housing or food stability, a reduction in support services, and even a loss of what has become a “normal routine” in a persons’ daily life.
If you are reading this message and have been experiencing any of the grief, loss and stress referred to here, please realize and know that there is help available for you.
Get immediate help if you are in crisis:
• Call 911
• Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline [1-800-273 TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Chat]
• National Domestic Violence Hotline [1-800-799-7233]
• Veteran’s Crisis Line [1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text:8388255]
Or call Twin Cities Therapy and Counseling Associates at 612-202-8703
to make an appointment for either in-person or telehealth counseling.
Written By: Lura L. Smedstad, M.S., LPC
Twin Cities Therapy and Counseling Associates
Twin Cities Therapy and Counseling Associates is a mental health clinic with counseling services by caring therapists. Please visit twincitiestherapyandcounseling.com for more information