Today’s Solutions: November 30, 2021

Grief and loss are emotions that we all experience on an individual level, and certain events may even induce shared grief among communities. This year, the pandemic has brought with it strong and unfamiliar feelings of global collective grief. If you are struggling to make sense of your experience of grief, expert David Kessler has some words of wisdom that will help you cope.

According to Kessler, grief is not a one-dimensional feeling but has many facets. We mourn the loss of the world as it was before the pandemic because we know it will never be the same, like how traveling by plane is a different experience now than what it was before 9/11. We’ve lost our collective sense of normalcy and are filled with uncertainty about when we will be able to rekindle our connections or when we’ll find economic stability again.

Kessler also categorizes this overwhelming sense of uncertainty as anticipatory grief. He says that anticipatory grief centers on death and is grief that we feel when someone gets a grave diagnosis or when we remind ourselves that we’ll likely have to live through losing a parent.

In dealing with the virus, this kind of grief is confusing because our primitive mind knows something bad is happening but cannot necessarily see it, completely breaking our overall sense of safety. For humanity, because of how interconnected our world has become with the internet and the growing accessibility of international travel, this is the first time we’re collectively facing this loss of safety.

To manage this grief, we must work to understand it. Kessler co-wrote On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, which helps clarify the stages of grief: Denial (this virus won’t affect us), anger (you’re making me stay home and taking away my activities), bargaining (if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right?), sadness (I don’t know when this will end), and finally, acceptance (this is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed).

Acceptance is what gives us the power to control our grief and will help us move forward. He says that it’s also important to manage our anticipatory grief by not only imagining worst-case scenarios, like our parents getting sick but to find balance by encouraging yourself to imagine the best-case scenarios.

Kessler also encourages us to be present and to think about how to let go of what we can’t control. He suggests practicing being present by simply naming five solid things in the room. There’s a lamp in the corner, a desk, a photo of your dog, a water bottle, and a coffee mug.

Though there are many strategies and helpful insights Kessler provides in his book, his ultimate advice is to allow ourselves to feel sadness, fear, and anger before we attempt to move on. We tend to try to fight off these feelings because we fear that if we let them in, they will never go away. The opposite, in fact, is true. If we give in to our emotions, we feel them, get through them, and move on to the next. Embracing these emotions and finding tangible actions to help us cope is how we will ultimately find a resolution.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Popcorn may be the next sustainable building material

Popcorn is more than just a tasty snack to munch on while at the movies—it may soon be widely used as a natural and eco-friendly alternative to man made home insulation. Scientists at Göttingen University ... Read More

Want to get students engaged? Consider career-based classes

Students who are engaged in the classroom are more likely to participate and retain more information, but what exactly keeps kids engaged? Researchers from Ohio State University surveyed 20,000 high school students across the US ... Read More

This 3D-printed eye is an eye-conic development for digital prosthetics

According to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, Steve Verze, a 47-year-old engineer from Hackney, has been the fortunate recipient of the world’s first 3D printed eyeball. He first tried the eye on for size earlier ... Read More

Senegal’s only circus troupe helps homeless children get off the streets

Senegal has exactly one circus troupe: Sencirk—and it was founded by a former child beggar named Modou Touré. Before taking his place as ringmaster of his own circus, Touré, at the age of seven, was ... Read More

New breakthroughs in nutrient-sensing cells

Did you know immune cells can sense nutrients? A new study from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has identified the biological mechanism behind the phenomenon. The type of immune cells with these special abilities are ... Read More

How to stay warm this winter during outdoor social gatherings

Temperatures are dipping and snowflakes are falling, but that doesn’t mean we have to say goodbye to our outdoor social gatherings. Plus, it might not always be safe to gather indoors, and everyone will have ... Read More