Mask mandates are being largely lifted, children have returned to school with the option of removing their masks and indoor and outdoor celebrations and events are returning to our lives this Spring and Summer. How do we begin to process and cope with the losses and grief we have experienced over the past two years?
For many those losses have been the lives of loved ones. Grieving their unexpected illness, the inability to say goodbye and gain closure in traditional ways. For instance, visiting our loved ones in hospital, sitting at their bedside and then navigating delayed services and celebrations of life.
For others, those losses appear on a smaller scale: delayed or cancelled weddings, baby showers, the loss of a normal kindergarten or school transition, such as graduations. Maybe the inability to hold a first birthday party or a 50th birthday, celebrate a milestone anniversary or for grandparents to hold their grandchildren in their arms. The loss of the ability to engage with our friends, attending social events or morning coffee dates.
How do we begin to process all of these losses along with the worry and stress around re-entering these much-anticipated activities now that restrictions have been lifted and we have been largely cleared to engage in them again?
Here are some tips to help you manage this “re-entry anxiety” and begin to process through your grief:
Mindfulness – Be mindful of your needs. Continue to follow safety guidelines that are recommended for your healthcare needs or that continue to provide you with peace of mind and ensure the safety or yourself and others.
Take Your Time - Ease back into previous activities at your own pace. Do not feel pressured to jump back into activities that you are not comfortable with doing yet or that may be trigger for your anxiety or grief. Engage in things that you feel comfortable doing and allow yourself the ability to decline invitations and implement boundaries that feel manageable for yourself.
Access Supports – Touch base with your family and friends and communicate your needs and stand strong in what feels right for yourself and your family.
Positive Coping – Engage in activities that help manage symptoms of grief and anxiety such as: Meditation, journaling, exercise, taking space, spending time with loved ones, and share your experiences and feelings.
If you find yourself needing more support, you are not alone. Reach out to additional resources such as individual therapy or group therapy to process your grief and/or anxiety, practice and regain social skills or just find comfort in the shared support of others reach out and find relief in that additional support.
Kylie Pedersen-Ortiz, LCSW #74365 | LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER
Kylie Kylie specializes in helping children and families navigate the many challenges of chronic illness. She can be reached at (805)399-2598 or by email at email@example.com.