This Discomfort is Grief

This discomfort we are feeling is grief. As the shape of our lives changes and we social distance in the face of the pandemic, it brings up a lot of feelings. The root of these feelings is grief, and naming it can help us manage it. 

Grief can bring physical pain and a racing mind. It also brings up lots of different feelings as we move around in the stages of grief, transitioning through denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. These stages are not linear, but they do provide a way to better understand how our complex feelings are really all part of the grieving process. 

Understanding our feelings as grief helps. Another way to support ourselves is to find balance in the things we are thinking. Instead of falling down the rabbit hole of anticipatory grief where we imagine all worst-case scenarios, we can also spend time thinking of best case and middle ground outcomes. 

It also helps our grieving process to bring ourselves into the present moment. We are often focused on the past or the future, and so pausing and bringing our attention back to this moment right now helps ease distress. We can practice mindfulness, can focus on the breath, or just turn our attention to what is in the room with us. There is a mug, a chair, and a blanket. The blanket is soft. The mug is heavy. 

Grief can be understood as a process that flows through us. Sometimes we can become afraid to let unpleasant emotions in. That if we let the sadness in the door, it will sit down and never leave. Instead, think of it like water. The sadness is here, let it flow through you, and then it will pass. Trying not to feel our feelings only hinders our ability to process them and move forward. 

We are grieving the many ways that our lives have changed so suddenly, and we are grieving more changes that may come. Be gentle with yourself. And remember that Counseling support is available (via secure online video) to you when you need it. 

*This article is inspired by the input of Ha.Le’ team members, especially the counselors, as well as this article, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief”, which quotes David Kessler, a foremost expert on grief.