- Rashida Dinehart
The Coronacoaster and the 5 Stages of Grief
Originally posted on rashidadinehart.com in August 2020
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a big grief journey advocate. I believe that wherever you are, you’re feelings are valid and to move past or heal from those feelings you have to first and foremost...feel them.
COVID-19 has forced a lot of people into a grieving process they may have never had an experience with. And since they may have never lost someone significant, they might not know that grief can be more than that, and so they don’t know what to call these new feelings they’re having. Grief is about mourning and whether that’s a person, a life you once had, or a house you lived in, it’s all relative to you. Relative being a keyword here. I’ve learned early on, that you have no right to judge the severity of another person's pain. You have no right to tell a person how they should feel. Right now as a nation COVID-19 has made us all collectively enter a grieving process. And some of us are first-timers, while others can recognize these feelings right away. If you’re not familiar with the stages of grief they are as follows: (Pulled directly from PyschCentral because I wanted to get these perfect without my paraphrasing)
Denial - Denial is a common defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock of the loss, numbing us to our emotions. We block out the words and hide from the facts. We start to believe that life is meaningless, and nothing is of any value any longer. For most people experiencing grief, this stage is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.
Anger - As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. he intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends, or family.
Bargaining - The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control through a series of “If only” statements. This is an attempt to bargain. Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable and the accompanying pain.
Depression - After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss (grief.com), We feel sad and hopeless like we will never move past the loss.
Acceptance - Reaching this stage of grieving is a gift not afforded to everyone. Some may never see beyond our anger or denial or take a long time to get here. Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened, but this is not the case. This stage is about accepting and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality (grief.com). Or in our current case, a reality we're going to be living in for longer than. we originally thought.
It’s important to understand that the grief process is not linear, you don’t move through it like a 10-day program and come out on the other side perfectly healed. You can move forward or “backward” on any given day or time. You may not experience stages in order. Heck, you may not even experience all of them. The important thing is that you’re moving. You’re feeling your feelings and doing the work to learn to cope. If COVID-19 is your first time truly moving through a grief process please remember to give yourself some grace. Your world was turned upside down overnight and you’ve been called to handle a pretty heavy load. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, a single person, a person living in a house or in an apartment, you’re allowed to feel grateful yet still feel sadness over missing the way things were. The goal of this pandemic should be to just arrive. Arrive on the other side of this as whole as you can.