The 5th of March 2020 marked the day that every South African’s life changed forever.
This was the day that the first case of Covid -19 was confirmed in Grey’s hospital, Pietermaritzburg. Since then, over 1.5 million South Africans have been infected with over 50 000 deaths recorded.
Not one of us is guaranteed to come out of this unscathed whether physically or emotionally. At the frontline were the brave doctors and nurses who witnessed their numbers being decimated as they fought a virus no-one knew yet how to treat. Let us not forget the families dealing with the loss of loved ones and not being able to bury them in a dignified manner.
So, how do we deal with loss?
Each of us deals with grief in our own way. Some break down completely while others seem totally unaffected. A ‘one size fits all’ solution simply does not exist. However, there are various stages of grieving which can be identified and knowing these stages helps us in comforting our loved ones.
Let us discuss the widely accepted KÜBLER-ROSS model. This model states that there are five stages to grief:
Even though we are not psychologists or therapists, we believe that these stages may play out in the following ways:
Here, the grieving person faces a situation where a loved one has been admitted to hospital for Covid – 19. The family member may deny the existence of Covid – 19 and imagine that anytime soon he or she will receive a call from the hospital saying it was all a mistake and that their loved one is perfectly healthy.
Denial is always temporary in nature and it is a perfectly healthy way of grieving.
Questions may arise such as: “Why us” “Why our family and not the family next door?” A person might go so far as to get angry with the person who got sick: “Why didn’t she wear the mask when I told her to?” At the end of the day, anger is a sign of pain and it is a path to healing.
In this situation a family member tries to bargain themselves out of the situation. A negotiation takes place within themselves – “If they recover, I promise I will be a more loving spouse.” Bargaining is often accompanied by a sense of guilt a or with a Higher Powers you end up blaming yourself for something completely out of your control.
Depression is often caused from grieving the loss of a loved one once you stare reality in the face. The loved one is gone and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Confusion may set in. Not wanting to get up in the morning. Stuck in a holding pattern. Realise that this is a normal part of the grieving process and you will overcome it.
In this stage you accept the loss. You learn to live with the situation even though you are still grieving and not quite over the loss. At times you could slip back to one of the other forms of grieving, but your perspective to the loss is gradually changing.
There is no wrong or right way to mourn the loss of a loved one.
If you find yourself feeling emotionally unattached and distant, never judge yourself. Rather realise that this is your personal way of dealing with loss. Maybe you have been brought up to always be the ‘strong’ one in the family – of ‘big boys don’t cry’ – of needing to be there for everyone else in the family.
Never ever feel guilty about your grieving process. For some, the process can take a few weeks or months while for others, it might only even impact them much later.
The best advice we can offer is the following:
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one, ask for help. Having friends and family is so important because it allows you to open up about your feelings almost immediately. If that does not work, approach a support group or make use of grief counselling services.
It is never a sign of weakness to reach out. Reaching out for help is especially important when you have other people relying on you. Take for example the grieving single parent with children to take care of. Or the person who needs to get back to work and whose thoughts are all over the place.
If you have lost a loved one recently, our condolences go out to you and your family. We know that money is not everything, but part of the reason why we are in the life insurance business is to assist families through the grieving process. That we do by sparing them the financial hardships so often suffered.
Until next time, keep safe.
The Wise About Life Team