By Nicole Smith-Merry

When we think of grief, we often think it relates to the passing of a loved one. Most of us have struggled with grief in that way. However, this is a perfect time in our nation to understand the many reasons for grief. 

Symptoms of grief may arise during the loss of a relationship, the loss of physical abilities, the loss of certain freedoms, the loss of employment and the loss of a business. The common thread to all of these situations is loss. 

Loss is painful and confusing at times, so we must all make strides in acknowledging it. We need to be kind to ourselves and each other during these mourning periods.

According to Kubler-Ross, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. 

Using COVID-19 as an example, many have been heard saying statements that fall into the denial stage. Denial feels safe, but we cannot sit in that place for too long. 

Many of us became angry when our inherent freedoms were taken away. Let me add that anger is a very natural feeling to have considering these unfamiliar circumstances. 

Bargaining implies that we may feel like saying, “Can we make concessions to reopen?” It is so easy to say, “I’ll do this, if you do that.” 

If being honest, how many of us have experienced some form of depression during this period of isolation and time of various losses? We as a society cannot work, socialize or even spend time with loved ones if they are elderly or immunocompromised.

Finally, it is my hope that more people are in the acceptance stage of grief than not. It is a much easier place to navigate when faced with rules that are not in our control. 

Now that grief is explained, sit for a minute and think if you have experienced symptoms firsthand. These symptoms, especially anger and depression, are serious and should be discussed in a therapeutic setting. Take time to take care of yourself and seek the help that you may need. I promise you that there is no shame in it.    

Nicole Smith-Merry, MS, LPC, NCC is a licensed professional counselor in Pennsylvania.