What to expect during times of grief?
Grief involves a struggle to re-establish equilibrium in your life. Creating a new balance involves external, internal, and spiritual adjustments. Some of these adjustments include: accepting the way the loss you’ve experienced impacts your daily life and everyday functioning in the world; confronting the impact this loss has on your sense of self; and processing the effect this loss has on your beliefs, values, and your connection with Allah as well as others in your life.
Denial and Shock
When the entire world is changing around you and life looks like you’re walking through a book rather than reality, experiencing a sense of shock is a normal response. Experiencing a feeling of denial of reality is a confusing state of mind that occurs before we fully grasp the gravity of what is happening and can be accompanied by feelings of disbelief or disregard for the reality of the situation.
Sadness is usually associated with loss. You might feel down and cry more often than you usually do. It may also feel like you have less motivation and find less enjoyment in activities you used to love.
The entire world is undergoing collective trauma with the experience of COVID-19. When we experience trauma individually, we tend to go into one of three modes: fight, flight, or freeze. Freezing up may lead you to feel like you can’t get up and do anything. You might also feel like you can’t make decisions or know what the next step is.
There are many reasons why someone might feel guilty during this time. There might be spiritual guilt that collective sins led to this happening or not being appreciative of how life was before (seeing that it’s so much more difficult now). Those who are privileged with financial security may feel guilty that others are struggling economically. Those privileged with larger homes may feel guilty that others are enduring quarantine in tiny living spaces. Those with limited resources may feel guilty that they cannot provide sustenance for their family members.
Anger is a normal emotional reaction during times of loss. Anger is the body’s natural reaction to threat and, oftentimes, there is no greater threat than the loss of someone you love or the loss of the way you envisioned life would be. Anger can also feel powerful during times when we feel powerless. You may find yourself experiencing thoughts like, “Why is this happening?” Those who have lost their jobs may feel anger at being unable to care for their families financially. Anger towards Allah may also come up during various losses wondering, “I’ve done everything right so why me?”