Learning the stages of grief can help you heal after losing a loved one to COVID-19

Posted at 6:50 AM, May 05, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — "It is a terrible thing to lose someone. It's equally terrible to lose yourself in grief," said Peter Snelling, Executive Director with Tampa's Right at Home.

He says it helps to learn the four main stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger and acceptance.

"Denial is something that results from someone saying, 'I can't believe this is happening to me.' Bargaining could be 'If only I had taken him to the doctor earlier,' or 'If only I could have told him goodbye in the right way.' And there's a lot of guilt associated with that," he explained.

The third stage, anger, is best to be channeled in a healthy way, either through physical exercise, journaling or talking with a therapist, pastor or friend.

"They may have many things that need to get off their chest and let them know it's okay to be angry about losing someone," he said.

The final stage, acceptance, is not easy.

Snelling says that's because many feel bouts of confusion as they bounce from one stage of grief to another.

"So someone can be in a level of acceptance and be okay for this hour. And the next hour, they could be in total denial that it ever happened. And it gives you a sense of uncertainty and anxiety because you just don't know why you're experiencing all these emotions," he explained.

With this pandemic lasting well over a year, many people may still be in denial having no funeral or memorial service for their loved one, leaving families without closure.

"When you don't see them. They just simply vanished? Wow. There's no closure. Families need closure. Loved ones need closure. And unfortunately, COVID has affected that and has taken that away from many families and that's sad. That's very sad," he said.

Finding ways to cope with grief is imperative to both your mental and physical well-being.

So Snelling says to consider these other tips.

Join a virtual grief support group, get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, maintain proper nutrition and listen to your body.