Loss, death: it’s a part of the human experience. COVID-19 has certainly reminded us all of that. It stinks. Yet I want you to realize that there is a lot you can do to have it be less awful… for you and your loved ones. While it may be new, that this is the first time that we have all experienced major or minor losses at the same time, what isn’t new is that loss is loss is a loss. No matter the nature or the depth. I say this to reassure you: that you already know everything you need to manage really well right now. And that requires only two things; (1) for you to be aware of how the pandemic is affecting you so that you know what specific actions can make you feel better, and (2) that you choose to do those things. You decide to be masterful amid the mayhem.

Whether the pandemic has cost you a loved one, a co-worker, acquaintance, the loss of your job or income, missed events like graduations, weddings, dream vacations, kids’ milestones, you’ve experienced loss. You’ve experienced the loss of freedom of movement and access to resources: maybe for the first time in your life. I’m hearing a lot of you describe feeling bad about yourselves, restless as you’re not productive enough. You’re having a loss of productivity. (If that’s you, please be kind and cut yourself some slack). I think we’ve lost something less tangible, yet equally significant: a loss of innocence. In your lifetime, you’ve likely felt, for the most part, “safe,” in areas where you now do not. That so much was a given: certain. Think back to early this year. Was it even fathomable that this could happen? So now you may be feeling a level of uncertainty that you never thought still existed given our advances. That may leave you feeling nervous, restless: even afraid. You might react to uncertainty by being irritable: out of sorts, which stems from a kind of “Damn it. This isn’t supposed to happen to me”. Underneath the uncomfortable, distressing feeling of uncertainty lies a question. “Will it be okay?” And even more profound, “Will I be okay?”

The answer is yes. I know this because we always have been: after World Wars, after 9/11. But who came through the least scathed: who recovered most successfully? I believe it was the people who paid attention to how they were affected, and then decided how they could be to respond powerfully. Because we’re focusing on loss and COVID-19 this week, I think they acknowledged their losses and knew to mourn them, so they weren’t weighed down by them as they moved forward.

Acknowledge your loss(es), give the feelings the time they deserve, and then strive to move forward.

Beware the danger of comparison. I have heard several people stop themselves when sharing their pain or disappointments during COVID-19. Saying it’s nothing compared to someone dying or losing a job. I get that; keeping perspective is great. Yet right now, I don’t want you to minimize your valid feelings. Being powerful right now around loss means acknowledging it so that it has less of a negative hold on you.

Unfinished business. The experience of loss has a way of triggering feelings associated with past losses. And whatever is unresolved for you will likely show up. As if when the heat gets turned up high, the buried stuff boils to the surface. Here’s a tip to help you know when an unresolved issue is dog-piling onto your COVID-19 experience. When you feel discomfort -- sadness, anxiety, anger, fear -- ask yourself, “When else have I felt this way?” If nothing comes to mind right away, keep looking. It’s the feelings that get triggered, connecting seemingly unrelated events. The beauty of this is that now you know exactly where to go to work letting go of that heavy load of unresolved grief.

Now let’s do the work of figuring out what actions could help you. Next week, we’re going to talk about how to work through the challenges in front of you right now, but before we get there, I want you to take a moment and write down everything you’re feeling, what has helped you, and what seems to be holding you back. I invite you to join me back here next week to talk a little more about moving forward.

Author's Bio: 

Lee Odescalchi is a coach and licensed psychologist. She has coached and counseled clients, just like you, looking for more fulfilling lives. Her unique approach uses the most effective methods of personal development and performance strategies. She does this while addressing issues from the past that have led to self-limiting beliefs that get in the way of your success. Lee also empowers people to “get out of their own way” and maximize their strengths so they can produce extraordinary results… in any area of their life.