Surviving a pandemic: Finding joy in the middle of grief

submitted by Susan B. Apollon, Psychologist, Author,           

If you have been self-quarantining due to the pandemic, and have been experiencing periods of sadness, tearfulness, anger, frustration and impatience, you are probably grieving; that is, you are mourning the loss of your past normal way of life, your past relationships, and your identity, i.e. the way you thought of yourself in the past.

You may also be mourning the loss of your loved ones who have died from COVID-19.

You are normal!

Know that you will go through periods of shock, denial, a myriad of other emotions, wanting to bargain with your creator, and eventually accepting your losses while seeking their meaning.

While grief and trauma are part of life’s journey, know that you are ultimately not here for suffering, but rather for joy.

Joy is needed because it balances the pain of your grief and helps keep you healthy by supporting your immune system.

Even when you grieve, you can bring joy into your life by trying any of the following:

  1. Celebrate special life-events (birthdays, anniversaries and graduations) together but apart. For example, family and friends can do a drive-by with signs, balloons, and gifts. You can also park, sit and dine in the driveway while those you celebrate sit and dine on their front porch. You still enjoy the company of one another!
  2. Carve out time daily to sit outside (on your porch, backyard, or in a park), appreciating the beauty of nature, while reading, resting, and greeting others as they maintain social distance.
  3. Plant your favorite plants and shrubs and take time to enjoy the gifts they offer you.
  4. Meditate 15 minutes outdoors or in your home, intentionally seeking peace and calm.
  5. Watch movies that make you smile, laugh and feel good!
  6. When no one is home, play your favorite music and joyfully sing and dance in your kitchen.
  7. Find ways to serve those in need of personal protective equipment, food, money or just companionship (at a distance).
  8. Connect regularly with loved ones by phone, Zoom, Skype or FaceTime.
  9. Read inspirational, uplifting stories of hope, miracles, angels and answered prayers.
  10. If you are part of a choir, play their songs and sing along with their music. Feel the joy!
  11. Pray and talk to your Creator, expressing gratitude for your blessings!
  12. Focus on what you have rather than what you do not have!
  13. Release the past; live in the present moment!
  14. Choosing to focus on the positive aspects of a situation leads to feeling greater joy.
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