The grim reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us to grieve alone at home, because of the strict shelter-at-home orders currently in place. Hospitals are severely limiting visiting opportunities even for immediate family members as a result of the coronavirus. Grieving in isolation in the wake of this widespread virus is all that we can do. COVID-19 has disrupted everyone’s lives, leaving many of us to mourn the loss of friends and loved ones from within the confines of our homes.
We grieve not only the loss of lives of those whom we know and love, our friends, and neighbors — but also beloved entertainers whom we tend to see as these indestructible larger-than-life figures. Coronavirus has left us isolated, alone, and confused about what's going to happen next. This pandemic has everyone wondering...where do we go from here? Who's next? How will we recover?
Below you will find some ways to help you get through your grief when you can’t visit the family or participate in any ceremony or funeral to pay your respects and say your goodbyes.
1. Call on Your Support System
This global pandemic has made grieving especially lonely. Your thoughts might now be turning to the things to do in quarantine when you aren't able to visit family or friends to seek support. Or, maybe you've been unable to visit your loved one who’s sick and dying in the hospital and are beside yourself with grief and anxiety.
First of all, know that you're not alone. If you’re seeking a connection and ways to express your grief, consider some of the ways below to reach out to your friends and loved ones during quarantine:
- Schedule regular calls to check on one another
- Send supportive text messages regularly
- Have a video chat
- Ask a trusted neighbor or local friend to meet you outside with the appropriate social distancing in place so you can have some face-to-face conversation
2. Take a Walk
During stressful times or when dealing with the loss of a loved one, taking a walk can offer therapeutic relief from your grief and sorrow. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week for the average adult. During times of elevated stress, this physical activity is more important than ever in maintaining a healthy balance in your emotional well-being.
Contemplative strolls around your neighborhood have social and psychological benefits and are an alternative form of grief therapy. Even though self-quarantine mandates and social distancing orders are in place, you might be able to walk outdoors safely.
Keep up-to-date on the latest guidelines by following the Center for Disease Control and Preventions' (CDC) site.
3. Take Time out for Prayer and Meditation
When you're trying to care for someone from far away and are trying to cope with your grief, it helps to set some time aside for prayer and meditative contemplation.
But how can you cope with your grief when you've been robbed of your ability to spend time with your loved one when you are unable to have deathbed visits, funerals, or last embraces? Meditating on grief means allowing yourself time alone to process your pain, sorrow, and loss.
Try the following short meditative session:
- Begin by focusing on your breath, feeling every inhale and exhale of your breathing. It will help calm your emotions and bring your focus to the present. Take one hand and hold it over your eyes, mouth, heart, or any other area where you feel the need to release emotion.
- Each time you take a breath, focus on your loved one. Bring forth whatever emotion, feelings, images or memories that come to mind. Don't try to stop the flow or to put a time limit on this exercise. Keep breathing deeply.
- With each exhale, let out your pain, your tears, your anger, your fears, and your sorrow. With every breath you take in, breathe in love, kindness, and compassion. Do this each time you feel overwhelmed and need a little bit of extra support.
4. Do Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts have long been used by counselors and other therapists in helping their clients heal their pain and suffering, and something you can use at home to help you through yours.
They provide stress relief and offer ways to cope with your grief when you’re home alone struggling with your loss. Some activities that you can try are:
Create a mosaic out of broken dishes
Go on and give yourself permission to break some plates into a heap of shattered fragments. This activity can allow you to release some of the anger you may be feeling associated with grieving.
When you’re done expressing yourself (or have run out of dishes to break), pick up the pieces (both literally and figuratively) and find ways of fitting them together to create something beautiful like a piece of wall art, a mosaic planter, or patio tabletop.
Making DIY cards can be very calming and healing for you as you’re trying to cope with your loss. Look around your home for scrap paper, photos, and old magazines to help you create a card that you can give to others to help them through their grieving process.
Make one for your loved one who has died as well. Tell them how much you love them and will miss them now that they’re gone.
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Create a scrapbook
Gather your photos and mementos of your loved one into one piling heap at the center of your table and start piecing together the memories of you into a scrapbook.
Your book of memories will help you remember all the special moments you shared years after some of the details have faded from your memory.
5. Write a Letter
Writing a letter to your loved one or keeping a grief journal are two ways to express your emotions. You should feel free to write about everything and anything that you’re feeling without fear or holding back. No one but you and the paper it's written on has to know about your deepest feelings.
If you’re writing a letter, you can send it off into the universe by holding a “burning ceremony” afterward. All you have to do after writing your letter is to burn it, so you can release your feelings and help renew yourself.
If journaling, keep a journal by your nightstand so that you can jot down your thoughts, fears, and anxieties as they creep up.
6. Talk Through Your Spiritual Beliefs
Talking to God or another higher being is different than praying. Prayer is a bit more formal, while having a conversation with the powers that be can be just like talking to an old friend. You can incorporate your talks into your walks, your shower time, or at any time you feel the urge to share what you’re feeling.
Talking to something or someone incorporeal other than yourself may help you balance your fears, as your faith and belief in something may help guide you to a more compassionate state. It’s okay to talk about everything that’s on your mind — the good and the bad. This is definitely a no-judgment zone.
7. Work in Your Garden
Digging around in dirt also serves to soothe the soul when faced with grief. There’s something about the repetitiveness of the mindless digging required of gardening that calms you. So trade in your house clothes for some gardening gear and get out to your garden to dig around for some inspiration.
Try to find some unplanted seeds in your garage, rearranging your potted plants, or putting together a small rock garden. Any of these activities will bring you a sense of calm and peace as you try to cope with your grief.
8. Deep Clean Your House
When you occupy your mind with mundane tasks like household chores, you tend to set aside for that moment all the larger things in life causing you stress and grief. The next time you clean your house, go for a deep cleaning.
This means reorganizing closets, drawers and other storage spaces, getting rid of unwanted junk, and scrubbing the floors and walls until they glean. To make your work more meaningful, try playing a calming playlist for isolation from your smartphone or computer.
9. Take a Shower
Take a long hot shower and allow the flow of water to wash over you as you release your tears, pain, and sorrow.
The flow of water represents energy in motion and has a very healing effect when you’re grieving. It may also help as a grounding technique to hear and feel the water.
10. Light a Candle
This is one of the oldest traditions across many cultures and religions. A beautiful white candle when lit may represent all that is divine, holy, and spiritual.
Light a candle in honor of your loved one as you go through your grief process.
When all else fails, just remember to breathe. Take one breath at a time. This is all you need to get you through the first moments after hearing devastating news of any kind.
The more focused and centered you are on your breathing, the easier it is for you to get through this moment.
Grieving During Quarantine
This pandemic has stripped away the customary ways of saying our last goodbyes. While we are grieving alone as our loved ones suffer, hopefully we can find some solace in knowing that we are not alone in our grief.
Everyone can come together in spirit to grieve, which may be a soothing thought. Incorporating some of the suggestions above can help you as you deal with the death of a loved one.