Coronavirus has currently altered the lives of nearly every community on the planet in some way.

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“Shelter-in-place” mandates have created an immense amount of emotional, financial, logistical, and economic challenges. COVID-19’s severity has led to an understandable increase of fear, anxiety, and stress on individuals, families, and communities.

It’s hard enough coping with this drastic lifestyle shift and the heightened anxieties and fears that the coronavirus brings up.

Grief – Our Emotional Response to the Pandemic

Many people are reporting cycles of emotions in response to this pandemic that closely resemble the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). This is because much of the shared experiences brought by the pandemic are forms of loss. There’s a loss of normalcy to our typical lifestyle structures and routines, loss of physical and social connection and intimacy, reconciling with the long-term toll COVID-19 will take on our society, families, and selves even after it’s passed and the immediate threat has subsided, and of course, the loss of so many lives and a death count higher each day.

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Grief as in Loss of Employment and Uncertainty in the Workplace

Another tremendous form of grief many are experiencing today is the sudden loss of employment and the uncertainty of careers and financial stability. Even without a pandemic, job loss, planned or unplanned, brings up loss and experiences of grief for any individual. In the face of coronavirus, job loss may feel especially scary, as it is so unprecedented. Unemployment rates are higher today than nearly ever before, and entire industries are forced with the task of restructuring in unnatural ways, at risk of complete collapse. This is scary.

To be a worker in the middle of this crisis and to experience job loss brings the experience of grief in full force.

This is a completely appropriate reaction to an unfathomable situation. The loss may likely include loss of consistent routine, loss of coworkers you considered friends, loss of steady income. Maybe it was a job you held for many years, or served in a leadership capacity and invested much of your heart and soul, in addition to your time and labor. This is all real loss, and it will be grieved in the transition.

Stages of Grief

As with grief, the experience of the stages are non-linear. You might experience anger or depression, with no sign of denial, or it could come later. You might experience only denial, as it is still such a shock, and this may last a while, or tomorrow could bring a new range of emotion. You could go through all the stages in a day or a month or years, or move back and forth between them. Every person’s experience of grief is different. Understanding more about the experience of grief may be useful in navigating the emotions that are coming up in the present moment. Here, you can learn more about the stages of grief in relation to job loss, specifically.

Navigating Your Job Search During the Pandemic

Some folks may be in a position where this employment shift will not cost them rent, while for most unemployed folks, affording rent and bills will likely be a major cause of worry. If you are on the hunt for another job in this uncertain climate, here’s a resource to support with How to Navigate Your Job Search During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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Remember to Have Compassion for Yourself

It is important that great care and kindness is given towards yourself at a time like this. Jobs are so often connected with our sense of self, with our identity. Losing a job may feel like you’ve lost a significant part of yourself, or that your identity may feel uncertain all of a sudden. Self-compassion is essential in healing from this loss. If self-compassion sounds nearly impossible to muster right now, here’s some guidance.

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Incorporate a Mindfulness Practice for Self-Compassion

Cultivating a mindfulness practice is critical in fostering self-compassion. This can look many ways, and there are ways that everyone can increase their mindfulness in ways that feel authentic and comfortable, though it takes practice. Mindfulness is also very helpful in fighting social isolation, which is especially critical at a time where social distancing orders are in place, and options to socialize are minimal. Here are great tools for Getting Started with Mindfulness.

Additional Resources

  • If you want to learn more about the impact of mindfulness on loneliness, here is information about some of the research being done on this topic.
  • When it comes time to put this all into practice, Here are 7 Ways to Bounce Back After Losing a Job.

It won’t be easy, but remember that there are plenty of resources to support. Especially right now, you are not alone in this struggle. It is an incredibly challenging situation, and there is no easy way to comprehend the situation and cope with the realities of losing a job during a pandemic.

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If you find yourself continuing to struggle with the grief following a job loss, seeking professional support can be a useful tool. Teletherapy might be an accessible way for you to process the loss with a supportive and thoughtful clinician. You can explore Well Clinic’s teletherapy options here.

 

About the Author

Micah Rea is an Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) at Well Clinic in San Francisco. In her words, “I work collaboratively with each client to create a space where they can express their full selves.”

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