‘It’s grief’: How people may be mourning the loss of normalcy amid pandemic

TORONTO — As people around the world shut themselves inside and see each other only via video chat apps, many may be experiencing a new sense of sadness or loss that wasn’t present before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is grief. We are mourning and grieving the world we have now lost.”

That’s according to David Kessler, a grief specialist and co-author of the book “Finding meaning: The sixth stage of grief.” He says that people who are in various stages of lockdown or isolation may be experiencing different types of grief.

“Obviously, there are actually people whose loved ones have died, but for a lot of people, it’s the loss of our normal world that’s suddenly gone. It’s the loss of human contact,” he told CTV News Channel from his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Kessler, who has worked with hospitals, police forces, and the Red Cross on dealing with grief, says people may also be experiencing what he calls anticipatory grief.

“We grieve this possibility of seeing people die or seeing loss and our mind shows us the worst images,” he explained. “What our mind does is it shows us the worst scenarios. ‘Oh my goodness, my grandparents could die. I could be sick.’”

To manage these emotions, Kessler said people should try to notice when they have positive thoughts about the future.

“The truth is, maybe your parents or grandparents will be just fine,” he said. “We want our minds to be balanced and not just see the worst scenario.”

The grief specialist said there are other things people can do to manage their grief during the global health crisis. He said they should first try to recognize their feelings as grief and then try to control their feelings by imagining positive scenarios.

Kessler said it’s also important for people in isolation to try and put things in perspective while they wait.

“As I talk to different people around the world where the illness is more advanced there, as we sort of complain about being in lockdown, they’re saying ‘No, no. You don’t want to be complaining. You want to be thankful. This is your only hope,’” he said.

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