Grief and Loss: Naming Our Pain

Welcome to the CHRIS 180 blog! We are glad that you are here and hope that hearing from our clinical experts and talented staff will be helpful to you as you navigate through this difficult time. If we can name our difficulties, we can manage them. Our community is experiencing a collective trauma and CHRIS 180 is here to help. It is important to acknowledge what we are going through, and through this blog, we hope to provide insight and practical tips to help you face challenges in your life.
– Kathy Colbenson, LMFT, President & CEO

 

All of us are experiencing life like never before. We are isolated out of necessity, many are out of work, bills are growing, we are concerned for our family’s health and we can’t visit our friends and loved ones.

We are stressed and we are grieving. Any loss is emotional. People tend to equate grief with a death of a loved one, and that is true. All too often however, we are grieving our losses, but we don’t acknowledge we are grieving.  When we name our feelings, we are better able to deal with them.

Take a moment to think of the people you know. The high school and college seniors who can’t go through that treasured graduation they so richly deserve. Junior and Senior proms, cancelled. Hanging out with friends, the #1 outlet for kids, is all cancelled. Parents get their breaks from being at work or at home while kids are at school, but that’s not happening right now. Weddings and funerals are cancelled or happening with very limited numbers…and the list goes on.

I remember many years ago I was adopting a pet from a friend who couldn’t keep him due to apartment rules. I was so excited when the day arrived. Then I got a call that my friend just couldn’t let his pet go and found an apartment that would take pets. I was very surprised at my reaction, I cried and was sad for a few days. I was glad for my friend, but my emotions dictated my behavior. I was grieving the loss of getting an animal I had never met.

Intangible grief describes many of the feelings we are experiencing during this pandemic. In laymen’s terms, intangible grief includes loss of self-control, changes in our worldview and changes in our self-worth. Will I have my job? Will I lose my home? Can I pay my bills? We may experience negative outcomes because of our present hardship.

What you can do:

Positive thinking is very helpful when things aren’t going well. I’ll use my personal example. I was sad I couldn’t adopt my friend’s pet, but I was very happy she could keep her pet. I told myself, “it’s ok, I can get a pet anytime from a shelter.” Another example for teenagers could be, “I’m going to flunk my exam; I won’t get into college.” Your thoughts can bring negativity into your life BEFORE something happens. This causes great anxiety. Do your best to replace a negative thought by adding a positive thought too.

Acknowledge you are scared and acknowledge there are good things in your life, such as friends, family, hobbies.

Stay in the present moment as best you can. We can not predict the future, don’t go there. “I have enough food today; I have a roof over my head, and I have two terrific friends.”

Make your own prom, graduation or vacation at home. Dress up, zoom with friends, dance as if it’s your prom. Vacation at home, have a picnic, play board games. It may not be the beach, but you won’t get sunburned.

 

During these times of high stress, fear and anxiety, the CHRIS Counseling Center is here to support you. With locations in East Atlanta, DeKalb County, Fulton County and Gwinnett County, our licensed clinicians are here for you. To make an appointment, or learn more, visit CHRIS180.org or email Counseling.Center@CHRIS180.org.

 

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Monica McGannon, LCSW
Monica.McGannon@CHRIS180.org
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