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The Grief in Isolation Conundrum: What is Working for You?


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HeatherN

I recently lost my life partner in January very unexpectedly, where I woke up one morning to find him on the floor of our home, already gone. Needless to say it was a traumatic event that took some real determination just to get myself passably comfortable with living in that space and staying functional as a person in my new partnerless world. Right before COVID-19 I felt like I was JUST getting in the swing of a really healthy rhythm of work, gym, and socialization, and feeling my grief in an honest and healthy way. Then isolation happened.

It was almost too easy at first. My life had changed forever in January, so by the end of March in some ways it felt like the world had now joined me in grappling with unprecedented times. It felt like what I had to do to get comfortable in the earliest grief period was a boot camp for how to handle this new COVID situation. I was comfortable alone with my mind, staying busy with accounting work at home, exercising outside, and communicating with friends & family. But then I had a little scare of some mild cold symptoms and a heavy chest feeling, almost shortness of breath. Nothing I needed emergency care for, however it was just enough to scare me about my own mortality and throw me into feelings of the earlier, extremely raw grief like right after I lost him. Suddenly everything was in question again. Knowing I wasn't bad enough to get tested meant I couldn't know for sure if I had it, and no antibody testing yet means I can't have the reassurance of knowing I already had it and survived. So much anxiety. And this coincided with some bad weather days where I couldn't get out, and I felt scared to leave the house even if the weather had been better.

That kind of threw off my whole self care rhythm, and even though I was still being good to my body, I became pretty obsessive about looking at pictures of my partner, trying to research him and his family online to find new pictures or tidbits of information, researching what led up to his medical event, anything related to his memory. I avoided work I was supposed to be doing for my boss, and then I started avoiding my phone because I didn't want to explain why I wasn't making progress with work. All I could do was think about him, cry about him, miss him. Mourn our lost future, our lost dreams. So much like the early days, except with the perceived pressure that I'm supposed to be "better" now after 3 months. A couple days ago my lungs and the weather were back to normal, and I was very relieved to be able to get myself outside and even do some light jogging with no questionable breathing whatsoever. That was exhilarating. I felt alive and momentarily ok again. Since then I am getting myself back on track, but I've still been notably obsessive about focusing my energy on him. Reading his journals, looking at his social media activity in the years before he passed. I just want him back. I know firsthand grief isn't a linear process, but it's hard to ride this rollercoaster where I think I've found a way to remember him without hurting so bad, then have periods where with happy memories the pain of loss is all I can feel and the tears don't stop flowing.

 I have a few grief books that are wonderful for the inner exploration, but of course so much of the practical advice about learning to be present in your new life is centered on getting out and doing things we can't do until COVID lets up. So I'm looking to you guys.

Anyone else out there struggling in the same ways? What are some actions or other things that are working for you to balance your grief in isolation? How do you keep yourself from diving too deep into certain thoughts? What makes you feel healthy and balanced right now?

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ModKatB

Sorry for your loss. When I saw the angel date my heart kind of skipped for a moment because that was my husbands birthday. It has been 2 years for me but I still have those moments where it hits me that he is gone but then I also have more good moments too.

My way of coping with this having to stay inside is much like I did when I first was going thru all of it. I started writing in a journal and I also wrote poems about what I was feeling and it was a way for me to get it out. One other thing that helped me get thru some of the long nights when I wasn't sleeping was music. I would put on my headphones and start listening to all kinds of music. I don't know if this would be something that would help you but thought I would share. 

5 hours ago, HeatherN said:

I know firsthand grief isn't a linear process, but it's hard to ride this rollercoaster where I think I've found a way to remember him without hurting so bad, then have periods where with happy memories the pain of loss is all I can feel and the tears don't stop flowing.

I have written a couple of things about memories recently.

 

One day the memories that bring you pain and tears will be the memories that bring you joy and laughter.

 

Today my love I sat down and thought of you for a while.

Shed a few tears, had a few laughs and even got to smile.

Yes I miss you, but I have all these wonderful memories of you and I.

So I will think of us in love before we had to say goodbye.

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