stress

Grief and Bereavement: Coping with the loss of a loved one

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on everyone’s life. During this pandemic, many people have lost their loved one. Not connecting with the deceased before and after their death has potentially increased the risk of complicated grief. 

What are Grief and Bereavement? 

Bereavement is the situation of having lost a loved one. Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief reactions range from normal to diagnosable psychiatric conditions; people adapt to the loss and accompanying life changes. 

Social distancing has impacted the usual form of religious and cultural aspects of the grieving process. “Physical distancing” has invariably resulted in “social distancing”; the isolation and quarantine result in “touch starvation.” 

Signs & symptoms of grief:

  • Shock, disbelief, or denial
  • Anxiety
  • Distress
  • Anger
  • Periods of sadness
  • Loss of sleep and loss of appetite

Tips for coping with grief and bereavement: 

Communicate: Talk to people, expressing how you feel is a healing activity. Find ways to express your grief through communication. Join an online bereavement support group. Conduct a ritual with your friends and family to share happy memories about the deceased. 

Heal At Your Own Pace: Healing is not linear. Each one heals at their own pace, never compare yourself to another grieving.

Space: A space or specific area for grieving may help in the easier expression of emotions without hesitation and facilitate healthier acceptance of death.

Journalling: Penning your thoughts down can help you understand your feelings better.

Exercise: Physical exercise along with relaxation will improve your sleep and concentration.

Spend time with others: Allow yourself to have moments of happiness or escape, spend time with others. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself.

Stay healthy: Get plenty of rest and eat regular and healthy meals.

Pandemic and Your Changing Relationship with Food

The announcement of lockdown by the government due to the virus in India has bought significant changes in the lifestyle of the people, whether it’s work from home, the limited number of groceries, little or no socializing. The pandemic has affected not only the physical but also the mental health of the people.

Stress: The responsibility of providing food on the table during the pandemic and maintaining or losing jobs, health concerns, and financial problems can cause stress. The effect caused by the stress hormone cortisol, emitted during times of distress, also plays a role in weight gain.

Work from home: Apart from essential workers, most of the work is being done online, which includes work from home. Even the students in metros have online classes. Due to the conferment at home, there is an increased level of stress in the working-age population. To reduce mental stress, most of them are indulging in “stress eating”. There is a decrease in the mental health of people due to the monotonous lifestyle.  

Binge-watching: A person with anxiety or depression may binge-watch more to avoid socialization, leading to ‘binge eating’ to find relief. 

Quality of diet: Due to the limited number of groceries, people are consuming more packed food and show a lack of interest in preparing healthy meals, leading to an increase in unhealthy eating habits. The fear of food stocks running out due to lockdown can decrease the quality of fresh food and affect the diet quality.

Lack of physical health: Restrictions on gym and gardens due to lack of social distancing can lead to more time indoors and laziness. This leads to increased blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and bone problems.

Sleeping patterns: Change in sleeping patterns due to lack of physical exercise, stress, overthinking can lead to sleep disorders like getting nightmares and the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Psychiatric disorders: Psychiatric disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to weight gain owing to ‘comfort eating.’

Here are some tips for losing weight:

Reducing stress: Changes in eating patterns can lead to craving and high-calorie food. Intake of high-calorie food can lead to obesity.

Home Workouts: Attending online home workout sessions can make a person feel involved and connected to overcome isolation and depression; it improves physical health.

Diet: Including more fruits and vegetables in the diet daily can decrease the risk of overeating.

Eating plenty of fibre: Increasing the intake of fibre in the diet can help lose weight.

Routine: maintaining a healthy routine can help in avoiding overeating and stress.

Limiting screen timing: Taking a break from the mobiles and laptop can reduce the stress on the eyes and can get some time to focus on health.

How is the pandemic affecting children?

As we are constantly bombarded with news about COVID-19 and its spread, we experience a lot of anxiety and stress. Children face similar anxiety and stress, too.

Detecting physical symptoms of COVID is simpler than knowing about its effect on our mental health. This applies particularly to children, as all their regular physical activities have suddenly come to a stop. Schools and daycares have been closed; children can neither visit the park/play areas nor can they meet their friends in person. This can lead them to experience anxiety and stress.

Detecting physical symptoms of COVID is simpler than knowing about its effect on our mental health. This applies particularly to children, as all their regular physical activities have suddenly come to a stop. Schools and daycares have been closed; children can neither visit the park/play areas nor can they meet their friends in person. This can lead them to experience anxiety and stress.

It is hard for children to understand why their parents are stressed. Also, with easy access to digital gadgets; children can now gain a lot of information online and have a lot of queries about the pandemic.

Parents play a critical role during this phase, as children will be curious and ask more questions. They will also need clarification from their parents on specific issues. Hence, parents need to prepare their child emotionally for social distancing and isolation during the pandemic.

Psycho-education of parents and caregivers is crucial, as, during these difficult times, parents are the child’s biggest support.

There are certain things that parents can do to get the child to understand the situation, like:

  1. Reassuring them that this is a temporary phase.
  2. Give the children much-needed attention, especially when they feel like talking or have some query.
  3. Look out for emotional changes in the child and have regular conversations with them.
  4. Pre-plan the daily activities with the child, keep a fixed routine for schoolwork, playtime and recreational activities.
  5. Keep them in touch with their friends, grandparents and their loved ones through video calls and phone calls.
  6. Keep a check on their screen time on the devices.
  7. Try to keep them engaged in physical activities.
  8. Most importantly, take good care of their health and wellness. Develop a habit of self-hygiene in a fun way.

If the child is already in an abusive environment, the isolation during a pandemic can further deepen their mental health crisis. Childcare helplines have seen a huge spike in the calls regarding the health, nutrition, child abuse reports and medical assistance.

To reach out, you can write to Mind Mosaic at contact@mindmosaic.in and we will connect you with the concerned authorities and helplines.

Stay safe. Maintain social distancing.