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The Unknown: Processing Grief During COVID-19

The world has turned upside down since March of 2020. We are in the first pandemic in over 100 years and there are still a lot of unknowns about it. We are discovering deeper feelings of loneliness and isolation and at the same time, grieving together.

Grief can be defined in six stages (Kessler added a sixth to Kubler-Ross' theory of grief):

  1. Denial: "This isn't real or dangerous."

  2. Anger: "How dare they/you..."

  3. Bargaining: "If I do this, then that action will have this outcome."

  4. Sadness: "When will this ever end?"

  5. Acceptance: "It is what it is."

  6. Meaning: "I'm finding value in "X" part of my life right now."

The grief that many people may be experiencing in this pandemic is called "anticipatory grief." It's the feeling we get when the future is uncertain, when our jobs, our health, the health of our loved ones, and our livelihoods are at stake. The virus is particularly confusing because we know that "something bad is happening," but we can't necessarily see it due to social distancing. It breaks our sense of safety.

What can you do to manage grief?

1. Know and recognize the different stages of grief in yourself and realize that they aren't linear. The ultimate goal is acceptance and meaning. We can find control and power in acceptance and learn about ourselves and others, as well as develop compassion when we find meaning.

2. Stay as present as possible. Only focus on the next day, the next week.

3. Let go of what you can't control. While you can control your actions and your reactions, you cannot control other people, their beliefs, or their actions.

Pivot Counseling, PLLC offers BCBS covered telehealth and in-person therapy for individuals struggling with Anxiety, Depression, Relationships, and Eating Disorders in Durham, NC. For more information regarding individual counseling, please go to, or follow us at or

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