By: Nicole Collaço
As we’re approaching the festive season and the end of a surreal year (to say the least!), I’m filled with so many thoughts and emotions. This will be the first year celebrating Christmas without my mum and this thought makes me feel very anxious. However, I am sort of looking forward to a new year with hope that it will be a million times better than 2020!
When I reflect on this year the challenges were unrelenting. After my mum passed away, I wanted to get away, have some space from my normal routine, and have an adventure, but due to COVID-19, that was a no-go! So, I was stuck with having to deal with my emotions. Grieving during a pandemic is so strange as you don’t have the same level of contact and connection with people that might help you through the process. With no hugging, no real distractions/escape, the same mundane routine and only virtual connection; the grieving process became incredibly heightened and claustrophobic for me. I know that for ALL of us, because of the impact of COVID-19, we have on some level experienced changes to our lives in one way or another, whether it be changes to careers, financial situations, relationships, friendships, and living arrangements. We’ve all had to find a way to adjust and cope with these changes and in no way has it been easy. Rather than go into too much detail about how rubbish this year was, I wanted to share some of the things that helped me in relation to my grief during COVID-19.
- Being creative was so helpful for me in processing and letting out my emotions in relation to my grief. I did a lot of painting, pottery, writing poetry, all of which were cathartic.
- Surrounding myself with people that make me laugh, were willing to listen to me and held space for me to just let it all out were so key in helping me move out of a negative headspace.
- Talking to a professional was also an important step that I made in order to help myself and allowed me the opportunity to have a trained person facilitate processing my grief. For me, the hardest step was making an appointment with a bereavement counsellor, but I knew that if it didn’t feel right for me, I could stop at any time.
- Practicing self-love by doing lots of things that made me happy like cooking lots of Korean food, watching K dramas, drawing/painting. These steps really made a difference for me emotionally, particularly during periods of the pandemic when we were in lockdown and therefore unable to see friends or go abroad.
- Being patient with myself helped me get through the times when I felt negative about the way I was coping. I had to remind myself not to be judgmental of my actions/thoughts if I couldn’t complete my work to the standard I could before, or be there for my friends in the way I would like to be or feel excited about Christmas like I usually would.
- Practicing gratitude! Although this year was incredibly challenging, I am grateful that I have a job, a home, food to eat! Being grateful for what I have reminded me that actually, life is good!
Let’s face it, whether you’ve lost a loved one this year or not, we’ve all had a tough year. So, I want you all to know, you’re not alone in whatever you’re going through. And I also want you all to know, that I hope you all have a spectacular festive break and incredibly exciting, positive, abundant new year! Cheers to 2021!