5 Tips to Cope With the Loss of a Loved One During COVID-19

The loss of a loved one to the virus can be heart-wrenching, mindfulness teacher Sitender Sehrawat shares how to grieve and honour your loss.

The death and destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have hit many of us close home. 

The loss of a loved one to the virus can be heart-wrenching. Helplessness, guilt, sad and sometimes even anxiety and anger, the grief of this loss can manifest in various ways. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, mindfulness can help you cope and accept the bitter reality.

“The whole world has been suffering for over a year now, especially India in the present day. Every few minutes we hear the chaotic sound of ambulances scrambling with patients to find a bed with life support. There is no easy way to describe the chaos, but what’s more perverse is to recuperate from the loss of a loved one when grief is accompanied by anger, regret, guilt, and other overwhelming negative emotions. In such an indescribable catastrophe, mindfulness can help us find ways to recover,” says Sitender Sehrawat, mindfulness teacher and founder of Mindful Souls.

Here are his ways to work through your indescribable grief mindfully: 

Accept the unfortunate event

All our lives, we have been taught to avoid unpleasant emotions at all costs. If you are feeling depressed, you are asked to watch a movie, go out with friends or do something opposite of the current emotion. Dejecting negatives emotions puts us in a denial mode. Although it’s helpful to go out and cheer yourself up, it should be the last step once you have dealt with your negative emotions.

Often we are not taught that it’s normal to grieve, cry and experience unpleasant emotions. The path to recover must go through accepting the loss, grieving it but grieve a little less every day and find more reasons to wake up every morning to live life.

Mindful exercise: Sit on the floor or anywhere you are comfortable in a place of silence. Close your eyes and inhale deep letting the air kiss your nostrils. Doing this will bring awareness back to the ‘Now’. Exhale from your mouth reciting in your mind or verbally “I know it’s unfortunate and I am sad.” Try this a few times to let the hard truth sink in before we try to move on.

Give yourself time to heal

Unfortunate things may happen in the flash of a second but it may take a very long time to recuperate from them. Healing is a gradual process, most people try to rush this process. If you rush yourself to heal or ignore it, you may experience flashbacks of the loved one’s memories that may leave you quite distraught. Every time we go through this cycle, our mind considers it as a failure and over time we are convinced that we can’t heal. Suppressing your negative emotions may create an amassment of suppressed negative emotions. This could be lead to the eruption of all those unexpressed under the rug negative emotions. Give yourself time to feel better a little every day.

Mindful exercise: Every day give yourself 5-10 minutes in solitude. Sit comfortably and practice deep breathing as described in the last practice. This time recite while exhaling “I am feeling a little better than yesterday.” This wouldn’t be selfish to try to recover, after all, your loved one would’ve wanted you to be happy.

Live one day at a time

One of the reasons we find it strenuous to heal is that immediately after losing someone we try to picture the rest of our life without that person. Memories from the past and desolation of the future encompass our present moment forcing us to become numb. Living one moment at a time is the best way to make things better. Disconnect yourself from the future, the past and just breathe. 

Mindful exercise: Set a reminder for every 5 or 10 minutes to bring your awareness and thought back to the present moment and focusing on things you are doing even if you are doing nothing. In the Buddhist tradition, a gong is used as a reminder to come back to the present moment. But you can set a tone on your smartphone or computer if you like.

Share your pain

The greatest human trait is our ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings. Sharing your pain with others and listening to other’s pain mindfully gives us a sense of togetherness. As we learn about other’s pain we feel a sense of gratitude for ourselves. There are situations where people have lost more than one of their members. Knowing that we are still fortunate to be spared of that disaster will give you more reasons to feel grateful. After all, life is about what you have than what you had. Be grateful for everything you still have.

Bring your awareness to the present moment and write about people and things you are grateful to have. There are always more reasons to be grateful than we thought.

Honour the loved one’s memories

We earn memories by spending time with our loved ones. These emotional transactions are priceless. Cherish the memories by showing compassion for others who still need help. You might save someone’s life, only you could understand how gratifying it is. There is no better way to pay tribute to the memories of your loved one.