Often when we think of loss and grief, we think about the death of someone we love. The loss of a loved one through death is tragic and unimaginable, and no loss can compare to a death. We are not discounting the loss of a loved one through death; however, we cannot help but think of those individuals who are affected by the coronavirus, who live alone and now have this loss of social interaction due to isolation.
Lisa Marks, LPCC, who has worked with bereaved clients for the past 2.5 years, shares her own experience when faced with the new challenges of these uncertain times. Her words shed light on the difference of isolation and loneliness, and that loneliness is not the only option found in physical separation from our communities.
As I sit here completely out of my comfort zone writing my first blog, I am thinking of all of the times I have experienced loneliness in my life. I remember as a teenager having a period of loneliness when our group of friends ditched my sister and I for most of the summer. Or when I moved to Arizona in my early 20s by myself to go to graduate school and had to create a whole new life and relationships. Or as I sit here being quarantined due to the coronavirus. I decided to write on this topic because I know there are many people out there who are alone during this quarantine whether it is due to the loss of a loved one or maybe being single without a spouse or children.
When I first learned about the possibility of being quarantined, my anxiety increased thinking about being isolated at home. It made me want to see everyone I could because I did not know how long the quarantine would last. As the anxiety decreased, I started to realize just because I may be isolated during this time, it does not mean I have to feel lonely. We are in an age with technology, that we can still stay connected to people. This week I will be playing virtual bingo with my nieces and nephew, which allows me to still have that connection with them. Although it is not the same as being with them in person, we are blessed to have this option.
The biggest changing point for me in my moment of anxiety was the Holy Spirit reminding me that I am never alone. As in Joshua 1:5 God tells us, “I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not leave you nor forsake you”. And, again, in Joshua 1:9, “I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go”. God has promised us that He will never abandon us. Although in this time of uncertainty, isolation, increased anxiety, and depression, I encourage you to pray with these bible verses for comfort and peace.
What I realized is that I just needed to change my perspective and being isolated does not mean I have to experience the pains of loneliness. Especially for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, this time can heighten feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. For many of us, this time of being quarantined is making us look at our lives and relationships differently. It is an opportunity to grow deeper in our faith or maybe even to come to know God. We can try new things that are out of our comfort zone, like writing a blog, or maybe write a note to someone who you know is alone during this time to let them know you are thinking of them. As I continue to process everything that is going on, I am in awe that even though so many of us are quarantined all over the world, we are still closely connected because we are going through it together.
Grief affects everyone differently even when it is a similar loss, but now more than ever individuals are all facing different types of losses due to the same thing – coronavirus. Just as Lisa wrote, it is in these moments of hardship that we can become stronger. When we provide support to each other by checking in on one another, and by understanding that individuals may be grieving, even without a death or loss of a loved one, we can heal and grow as a community.