As a native Nova Scotian, my heart is heavy with sadness at the recent loss of 22 beautiful souls. In different times, pre-covid19, our grief was often mitigated by our grieving rituals. These rituals allow us to walk beside the grieving individual and share in their most intimate moments of pain and sorrow. We share our loss with friends and loved ones through the physical and personal connection of hugs, stories, music, wakes, funerals, and many more long time rituals that help us with the healing process. Now, many of these long held rituals have been ripped from our grasp, leaving us with an additional sense of loss and complicated grief. This has left us with a heightened sense of sadness and uncertainty in a world that already has lost a sense of normalcy.
Death of any kind is a difficult subject to approach and even in pre-covid times many of us may not know how to respond, what to say or do, so our automatic response might be to say, “Let me know if I can do something.” Though it may seem like a good thing to say, most people who are in the midst of grief, are not thinking clearly and probably do not know what they want or need. So instead, just go ahead and do something! Here are some ideas of how you can show your love and concern during this unprecedented time. I hope you find them useful.
send a card or email offering your condolences and share a personal memory of the deceased person.
make a memory book of pictures you may have
send a gift card for food delivery services or restaurants that deliver
offer your services to help plan a virtual celebration
let the grieving person know that you are there to listen when they are ready to talk. Just listen and affirm their feelings.
connect via a video chat and give them virtual hugs
Ask the person who is grieving to share their memories of their lost loved one. How would they like them to be remembered?
use your special talents and cook a special meal, write a poem, paint a picture, write a story or song expressing your love and concern and/or memories of their lost loved one.
For more information or support on this topic, you may want to visit these websites: here and here.
Coping in a pandemic is not easy, but we know you have the skills. Covid19 is putting to test our coping strategies. What works for one of us may not work for all of us. We are all attempting to make the best of a situation in which no one was prepared for. You may underestimate your ability to cope. You have what it takes so just keep practicing what works and if you want a little extra help don’t hesitate to reach out. You can learn more about how stress impacts you here.
We all need something to do and something to hope for. Below I hope you will find suggestions for coping that will help you or a friend.
You are more capable than you might think at times. Use the strategies that work best for you.
A- Z Coping Skills for Teens:
A: Allow yourself to feel. Identifying how you feel at this time can be helpful. Maybe you can’t or don’t want to share how you are feeling at this moment, but there are many helpful ways to do so. Put your feelings into a song, a poem, paint, draw or write in a journal. All are healthy ways to express your feelings.
Being OK with not being OK right now is OK. You may find that you have many strengths you never thought you had to cope.
C: Connection We all need connection , but especially during this time. Who are those people in your life who lift you up? Connect with them knowing that they may need someone to listen to them as well at some other time.
Care about yourself. Write a positive message to yourself and put it on your mirror with an erasable marker. you could write a positive note to yourself on a card and put it by your bed to remind yourself that you will get through this.
D: Decide to reach out and ask for help if you need it. Reaching out is a strength not a weakness.Your School Counsellors and other professionals are there to help as well as many online support services. It’s ok to reach out.
E: Express your emotions. Feelings are neither right or wrong. It’s what you do with them that matters. If you hurt yourself or someone else then that needs to be changed. Finding a positive way of expressing your feelings that works just for you will matter. Try these 101 Ways to Kickstart Your Day In a Positive Way.
Exercise is always helpful. If you have never exercised before, start now. Try getting out for a 15 mins. or more walk each day especially if you have not exercised before. It’s a great way to clear the mind. You can do it! Find an app or video that helps you. During this challenging time so many are offering free online exercise classes or videos.
F: Focus on your strengths by finding the strategies that work for you. There are so many coping strategies. Ask your friends what they are doing to cope and use the ones that you think might work for you.
G: Give yourself and others a break. That discomfort you are feeling is grief , the loss of so many things. Know that everyone is doing their best to cope. This is a challenging time for all. We’ve never been through this before and so if you are being irritable or unreasonable know that is normal. Feel your feelings
H: Hope . It is so important to maintain a hopeful perspective. It may be hard , but you can do it! There is much to look forward to. If you can’t see it create it.
I:Invite others to help you : Kids Help Phone, your parents, another trusted adult, find someone who can really help you.
J: Just be courageous. You will get through this using all the strengths you have.
K: Kindness is always a good thing . Do a Random Acts of Kindness for someone else today. A little postcard or note in your neighbours mailbox can make their day.
O: Open your mind to new ideas . This is a time where you can figure out new ways of doing things. There are so many possibilities, a new blog, maybe you can start singing for the first time. It is limitless to what you can do.
Check out these tips for overcoming obstacles here
P: Prioritize your well being. Positive self talk matters. Make sure you are speaking to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend.
Q: Quiet your mind. Be still! There are times that you may want to retreat to your room and just be still and let go of all your worries. An app like headspace can help with this.
R: Rest is essential at this time. You might get to sleep in at this time and that is great, but remember to get a good night’s sleep. A routine of getting up in the morning and going to bed at the same time is vital and will help especially during this time of elevated stress.
S: See or do something new. Take avirtual tourto reduce some of your stress: Trust that this will not last forever. Take each day one day at a time. Develop and maintain those positive connections with people that heal and help not hurt and harm. Most importantly make sure you take care of yourself. You can find some self-care activities written by teens for teens here.
U: Understanding your coping skills matters. What has worked for you in the past to help you cope? Try some of the ideas that you know really help. Here are a few tips on coping with stress.
V: Visualize Where is your safe place? You may need to visualize this safe place more often than usual at this time. I tend to go to the beach and hear the waves crashing on the shore with the sun beating on my face surrounded by the people I love. Having a safe place to go in your mind can be helpful.
I am a wife, mom, grandma, educator and psychologist. The majority of my career has been spent working with kids and their families. I am one of those lucky people who has been able to have a 30 plus year career that I absolutely love! I have been so honoured and privileged to be let into so many lives and to be able to grow and learn from each and every one of those experiences. I very much believe in sharing and giving back and so I would like to share my thoughts, learnings and experience, with hope that in some way, it may connect with you. So, in such an unprecedented time of physical distancing, I am taking an uncomfortable plunge into the world of online blogging. I am definitely a neophyte in this area but as a lot of good sources have told me “You just have to start!” So here goes! Once a week, over the next weeks I will be sharing life lessons, counselling ideas, everyday issues and respond to any comments or questions you may have. I hope you join me on my new adventure and perhaps you may become motivated to begin a new adventure of your own!