Well Being for Leaders
Grief and Loss
Right now you might be feeling lost
The world as we knew and understood it a few weeks ago seems to be a distant memory. Though our social distancing is a relatively new concept, the space created by the absence of human contact can make days feel like weeks. The deliberate focus on flattening the curve of a virus previously unknown to most of us has left little room for rites of passage previously taken for granted. Things like graduations, weddings, proms, showers, birthday celebrations and even funerals and memorial services have been delayed indefinitely. While we work furiously to keep safe and healthy we are experiencing loss after loss….loss of ritual, loss of the comfort of a hug, loss of routine, loss of control over the future. In a word, we’re grieving.
Grief can be defined as the emotional response to the experience of loss. We tend to isolate the term for use with a physical loss but grieving is a normative response to any loss. Right now, the world as we knew it three weeks ago has been placed on an indefinite pause. It’s completely normal to be grieving what was to be in light of what is. Our hope is that we can provide information about the completely normal experience of grieving. We’ll offer suggestions about acknowledging and managing your feelings while you use this time to tap into the resilient spirit we’re all capable of. And as always, if you have questions and concerns we want you to reach out to us. We’ll do everything possible to connect you with the support and resources you need to thrive through this challenge. You are not alone. You’re a part of the Spalding family and we are and will remain Spalding Strong!
Articles on Grief and Loss
Faith Responses to Loss
Videos for Stress and Trauma-Focused Exercise
Videos on Vulnerability
Time to Rest
Sometimes the best response to a difficult situation is simply to REST. By taking some intentional steps we can claim our emotions and ensure that we’re using the best coping strategies possible for both the short term situation and the long term consequences. The steps are easy:
- Relax: Claim your emotion and call a time-out. Physically step away. Take a short walk, text or call a trusted friend, take 20 deep breaths, move to a different room and stretch. It doesn’t have to be elaborate it just has to give you a chance to physically separate from the space you’re in.
- Evaluate: Look for the facts in your situation and identify how you’re responding to them. Remember the important first step to this is addressing facts. Once you commit to the facts of your circumstance you can begin to identify your emotional and physical reactions to them. Here’s an example: The fact is… I’m stuck in traffic with no way to get around it and I have an appointment in five minutes. My emotional response might be anger, frustration, sadness. My physical reaction might be a tightening of my hands on the steering wheel, rapid breathing, tensing of my leg muscles.
- Set an Intention: Create a short term and long-term plan of action to address the situation. Short term could be as simple as continuing your time out until you feel less anxious. Long term will include identifying a coping skill you already have or want to develop that you could employ when similar situations arise. Share your plan with a trusted friend, family member or colleague. Sometimes a second perspective makes all the difference.
- Take Action: Implement your plan and evaluate your outcome. What worked and what didn’t work? What will you do differently when faced with similar situations/emotions? Pat yourself on the back for taking action!
Sometimes the best way to move forward is to look behind. Answer these questions to explore how RESTing might look like for you!
- Think about a time in the recent past where’s you’ve found yourself stressed out in a challenging situation. Briefly describe what was happening:
- Share how you could have applied each step of REST to that situation. How would it have made things different?
- What situations do you find most challenging now?
Even under the best of circumstances, the only thing we’re ever really in control of is our response to the world around us. By engaging in REST, the hope is that a healthy response to your world, no matter how chaotic it might be, becomes standard practice for you. And remember, a pandemic is something new to all of us. There is no single right way to respond so give yourself permission to feel your emotions and make mistakes. Grieving is normal when a loss of any sort occurs. Together we can support each other as we create a new normal. But first…we must REST.
Adapted from Between the Sessions Resources 2019