Medically reviewed by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Feeling a sense of loss while you shelter in place during the coronavirus pandemic? It's completely normal to feel grief or a sense of loss during this difficult time.
Most of the country is under a shelter in place order. And during this time, it's more than normal to feel grief, a sense of loss, and emotional pain about everything you're missing out on right now. After all, you're dealing with loss and feelings of grief. It's OK to feel the pain.
Every day for the last couple of weeks, I've woken up to find out that the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening in the United States, as well as in the rest of the world. More and more people are getting sick, hospitals are running out of supplies as well as space for patients, and millions of people are losing their jobs.
To paint a dire picture, things are pretty horrible right now. But that doesn't mean all losses related to the virus are big picture ones.
Hanging out with your best friends IRL is no longer an option; weddings, baby showers, graduations,
family gatherings, and birthday parties are being cancelled; and spending a Sunday morning at your favorite coffee shop is just a daydream.
Even though these losses seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, that doesn't mean you have to pretend you're A-OK right now or that you can't grieve while you shelter in place.
People are suffering immensely, and we definitely shouldn't downplay that at all. But you're still allowed to feel upset about missing weekly dinners with your mom or going on a Target run whenever you feel like it.
To help you feel like you're not alone in this grief (and you aren't!), I'm dedicating this blog post to exactly this topic. First, you'll find my open-hearted post on why I think it's perfectly normal to feel loss over the smaller things right now.
And when you're feeling down, I've got a handful of easy activities that will boost your mood almost instantly, plus one of my favorite childhood recipes that's sure to put a smile on your face during coronavirus isolation. So relax, take a deep breath, and start reading.
Why It's OK to Feel Grief and a Sense of Loss Right Now
Right now, while you shelter in place and practice social distancing, there are lots of big-picture losses to be grieving over. And while we can't ignore the endless worry in the pit of our stomachs, each and every one of us needs to honor how the pandemic is affecting us on a day-to-day level.
This means you might be feeling sad that your go-to pizza parlor is closed or that you have to skip weekly yoga classes (and the coffee meet-up that comes after it). Sadly, pizza and yoga are not essential activities!
Or that your only outings these days are to essential businesses like grocery stores or outdoor businesses like farmers' markets.
Or like me, you might be grieving the loss of even bigger life events. I'm here to remind you that these feelings are totally normal—and are in fact healthy. There are multiple stages of grief, and I'm here to tell you that it's totally OK to stop and accept whatever stage you are in.
I recently wrote this Facebook post (it's also on Instagram, if you prefer that platform) about why this form of grief is perfectly acceptable. I got such a widespread, heartfelt response to these posts that I want to share them with you all.
1-Minute Happiness Boosters to Alleviate a Sense of Loss
With all the chaos in the world right now, it's easy to start feeling overwhelmed, fast. To help you calm down and reset yourself mentally, I created this graphic full of activities that can boost your mood in a minute or less flat. You'll find both indoor and outdoor activities on this list.
My favorite? Making a gratitude list. I also recently interviewed a friend and colleague who's riding out the coronavirus in Italy. Given that she's been in shelter in place for much longer than we have, I asked her to share her best self-care strategies (plus ways to stay sane and have fun, too) so we can all get a little inspo.
And if showing gratitude makes you feel better, take a moment to say thanks to the health officials and public health officers in your city and county who are helping you stay safe while we all work to slow the spread of the virus, reduce the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and flatten the curve.
If it weren't for all the amazing health care workers who advocate for Americans' health and safety, we'd be in an even worse place.
Here are other quickie happiness boosters:
- Write a letter to a family member
- Jot down your thoughts and feelings
- Listen to the radio
- Take inventory of your emergency supplies
Amy's Quarantine Recipe to Try