This is a guest post written by Jonathon Novello, MSU Health4U consultant and EAP counselor.
Over the last
month, mental health providers have seen an increase in clients with anxieties
related to current challenges and uncertainties caused by the worldwide
pandemic. They seek answers to big questions about their health, families,
jobs, finances, and relationships. They describe feeling distracted, unfocused,
sad, angry, overwhelmed, and confused. Many are feeling something unexpected, a
feeling that they may not be able to immediately identify.
That feeling is grief.
Grief is an
emotion we typically associate with death, but we can feel grief even when we
haven’t lost someone close to us. In fact, grief has to do with how we adjust
to any loss; and right now, we are surrounded by it. Think about the losses
you’ve experienced recently and see if they are similar to what other Spartans
have endured, such as loss of:
- Certainty and predictability
- A clear sense of the future
- Vacations and other experiences
- Time with extended family and
- Variety and freedom
- Comfort, safety and security
experience loss we feel grief. Grief is the process of moving from resistance
of that loss to acceptance. We don’t want to lose stability, time with
our parents, or the opportunity to watch our daughter’s senior soccer season,
so our brain resists that loss. We struggle with it and experience a whole
series of emotions as we sort out what this loss means to us.
thing about grief: there are no short-cuts. Grief is a process that we must
move through in order to accept and live with our new reality. The grief
process is often inconvenient, and at times frustratingly slow. While we are
grieving, our brains are being taxed with a whole host of complicated feelings,
from anger, to sorrow, to bargaining, to denial. These feelings come and go and
are not linear. We might feel fine one morning, and then something happens
around noon and we start to feel angry, and then by dinnertime we are suddenly
weepy and sad. Or, we may think we’ve left anger and moved onto sorrow, only to
feel anger well up again.
It is very common for people who
are struggling with grief to have difficulty concentrating, and many find it
much harder to focus on work, other responsibilities, or even pastimes that
normally reduce their stress. That is normal and expected.
Have you felt
like that at some point in the past several weeks? Maybe you’ve been unfocused
this week or more easily distracted. Maybe you’ve been feeling unmoored and
“blue.” You may have noticed some days your emotions feel like they are right
under the surface, ready to burst through if someone says just the wrong thing,
or you drop one more Zoom call.
We are all dealing with loss and
knowing this might help us have compassion for ourselves, as well as
others. You are not alone in this. Remember that grief is a process. We know that Spartans Will move
through this, but at our own pace and in our own time. Be patient with
yourselves and with each other and try not to rush the process.
Resources to Help You and Your
If you or a family member would like to talk to someone, remember The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential counseling service provided at no cost to MSU faculty, staff, retirees, graduate student employees and their benefit-eligible family members. During this period of physical distancing, EAP counselors are now exclusively offering Telehealth videoconferencing, which is an encrypted platform that is completely confidential and HIPAA compliant. Learn how to make an appointment.
Additionally, MSU Health4U has a variety of resources on their website that may be useful, including the following:
Lastly, MSU employees who are enrolled in an MSU health plan have access to Teladoc, which offers behavioral health (depression, anxiety, grief counseling, addiction, etc.) services via web, phone or app for members and their dependents who are age 18+. Learn more about Teladoc.