We’re all grieving - Creating space for the fear, discomfort and grief of COVID-19
As you can imagine, my coaching sessions currently include a lot of discussion around COVID-19 and it’s impacts, both practical, and more importantly, the emotional impacts.
We’re all grieving
Something that really stands out is the fact that we’re all grieving. We’re grieving for many things. At the extreme, we’re grieving lives and the ability for some to say goodbye. For many though, it’s grieving for the loss of our freedoms, our short term personal and career goals, our jobs (be this complete job loss, partial reduction in our work flow, or our small businesses) and we’re grieving our ability to plan, to go on holiday and importantly, to visit and hug friends and family. For some this grief is strong, and for others it’s an underlying tension.
Nothing is business as usual
Nothing is business as usual. We’re in free fall and we don’t know for how long, and this is causing fear, uncertainty and grief. We need to give these feelings some space. This doesn’t mean we need to wallow, but many of us aren’t giving ourselves the space or permission we need to feel what we’re feeling at the moment.
This isn’t to say we can’t still remain optimistic, make decisions and be strong leaders, team members, family members and role models, it just means we can do this AND make decisions, be strong leaders, team members, family members and role models.
Give yourself and others permission to feel
In fact, our vulnerability in recognising and allowing ourselves to admit both to ourselves and to others that we’re finding the current situation hard and uncertain and frustrating and challenging and that we’re feeling a little anxious, and grieving gives others permission to do the same. If you don’t allow space for your emotions, your grief, how do you lead others? How do you remain the best version of yourself?
Acknowledging what’s going on for you can be a relief and free up the energy we need to then address this crisis with awareness, care and emotional intelligence so that we can be supportive of ourselves and others.
The benefit of naming how you feel
Some of my clients have highlighted that just naming how they’re feeling at the moment has been key for them, lifting a little of the weight they’re feeling and allowing them to then focus on their work commitments and crisis planning head on. This makes sense. When we give a name to our emotions, it helps shift our brain functions from the emotional center of our brains and into the prefrontal cortex, allowing us to move into rational thought and often de-intensifying the emotion. We're not negating the emotions, just reducing the intensity and creating a little space. A technique that can help is the BLR technique (Breathe Label Reappraise). This encourages us to take some deep breaths, calming us down, label the emotions we're feeling and to then reappraise the situation, be it actions, or reframing our mindset. I would just recommend you give yourself a little time before you move into reappraise. I sometimes have a tendency to try and speed this step up, yet there is value in really sitting with the emotions for a while.
A few questions
So I leave you with a couple of questions. How are you feeling? How can you honour your challenging feelings AND your positive emotions at the same time? How do you give yourself permission to feel the full spectrum of emotions elicited by our challenging times?
Please stay well and look after each other.
Executive, Leadership & Professional Development Coach (PCC), Facilitator and Consultant.
0413 776 564
Laurenne Di Salvo is Coach (PCC), Corporate Trainer and Learning & Development Consultant. She enables people to develop the personal and professional capabilities they require for their current and future roles and lives through evidenced based coaching practices and learning programs.
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Laurenne Di Salvo