I am probably at the point in my life when I would rather skip the news.
I mean, it’s not that I don’t care how coronavirus is scaring everyone, the global pandemic and the financial crises. It sets off a somber vibe, considering how the world is coping and crumbling all at the same time. The death toll has become largely worrisome: more than 215,000 worldwide and over 58,000 deaths in the United States alone, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
It somehow brings me back to the time I lost my brother last November 2019 due to dermatomyositis, a rare inflammatory disease. I remember how painful it was, and it still hurts. I honestly don’t think the pain will ever go away.
How am I coping? Well, it is a hard thing to describe. There are moments when I don’t want to revisit the memories of being in the hospital room where he died. It’s hard to think about the short, intense two-and-a-half months he bravely fought a battle that was so physically painful for him. I conjure up images of him suffering in the hospital. He couldn’t speak. There was pain in his eyes. Yet, he was so loving to me and so strong. It is all too much! The grief and heartache come suddenly but yet softly now. Sometimes, I can train it to go away like when I am grocery shopping, trying to be present with my kids while helping them with their homework or just when applying fresh makeup on my face. There are times I just can’t handle feeling the pain.
There are three things I am doing right now to help me cope. I am able to pray again. I pray to Heavenly Father. I pray and talk to my brother. I need to keep that sacred communication line open — even if it feels one-sided sometimes. I know they are listening. Second, I am learning to be gentle with myself. If I am tired, I stop and rest. If I am sad, it is okay and I stop to pause and take a breath. And third, I am now seeing a licensed therapist to help me with my grieving. This was a big step for me because I really had my doubts about seeing a counselor. But I can tell you right now I am feeling so good and strong. Having someone to talk to is so healing in my life right now. This is what I desperately need.
Expressing grief is a normal reaction when someone loses a loved one. It includes emotional processes of coping with loss. I guess there’s really no telling how long it lasts, but it may vary depending on the relationship you had with the person who died, the circumstance of their death and your own life experiences.
To understand grief better, let’s look closely into its stages.
Denial and isolation may take place before the loss of the loved one if the death is expected. The person may be in a state of shock or fear, even numb at some point. This is when the grieving person opts to be alone and feel emotionally distant.
The next stage may involve loneliness or uncertainty. In the stage of anger, the grieving person feels the loss to a greater extent. At this point, they may have cried their eyes out thinking about the person they lost and may be, understandably, disorganized.
In the bargaining stage, one tries to think about the possibility of changing the outcome if things were done differently. It is a way of stepping out of anger toward acceptance. The person is now willing to concede to the outcome while sadness still pounds hard into his heart.
Grief tends to come in waves of distress in the depression stage. In this stage, the grieving person comes to the certainty and reality of death. It is also when the grieving person may have lost all the energy to battle sadness. It is when the feeling of emptiness creeps in.
Reaching the acceptance stage does not necessarily mean that all the pain is over. It is the time when the grieving person finds ways to come to terms with and accept the loss and adjusts to living his daily life without the deceased.
Coping varies from one person to another. It is a personal battle one has to bravely go through to see better days ahead.
And as heartbreaking as it seems, data shows an overwhelming number of people from all around the world have died from COVID-19. Taken aback by how sudden things happened, their families must be feeling a surge of varying emotions, thinking how things could’ve ended differently without this pandemic.
Please know that my heart goes out to each and every one of you and your entire family.
I pray this ends soon. Please, stay safe and take care! We are in this together.