Coping With Loss and Grief

Coping With Loss and Grief

Coping With Loss and Grief

South Africa has now entered another level 4 lockdown amid our fourth wave of Covid-19 infection. The culprit in this debacle – the far more contagious delta variant – has pushed our health system past the brink once more.

But of course, it’s not merely the mechanics of lockdown which we’re having to cope with. Locally and abroad, the past 36 months have taken its toll in various ways and wreaked havoc with our emotional and mental wellbeing.

We’re not here to focus on which course of action taken by governments and individuals is right or wrong, but rather focus on how we’re all coping.

A snowballing of losses

One of the most tragic parts of what humanity has been facing is the sheer frequency and pervasiveness of the losses we face.

Covid-19 has not merely had a direct impact on health of those affected, but its peripheral impact has caused inadvertent detriment in other respects. Those with other illnesses and diseases are told to wait, face protracted testing and treatment, or are made to navigate the treacherous waters of these medical ailments on their own due to restrictions on entry to facilities and visitation by loved ones.

The strain on pathology services has placed testing for other conditions on the back burner. Blood banks are running dry. Volunteer services at care facilities are worn thin. Organ and bone marrow donors are few and far between – even with so many otherwise healthy people dying of Covid-19, their organs and tissue cannot be used for those who so desperately need it.

Many people have had to say their goodbyes to the dearly departed from afar, and many have had to say goodbye to more loved one’s they’d ever anticipated laying to rest in a mere 36 months.

Jobs are lost. Businesses have foreclosed. The number of unemployed, destitute and at risk persons in society have skyrocketed – both due to loss of their personal income, and due to loss of income and availability of those who’d customarily support these networks.

Children are missing school work. Students and young adults have had to place their post-matric plans on hold, cannot find jobs, cannot get their driver’s licences or get from point A to point B…they are stuck at home, or back at home, in the care of parents who’d made plans for their futures which cannot be realised.

To top it all, the opportunities necessary for rest, relaxation and recovery offered by travel, physical exercise, recreational activities and socialisation have been all but eliminated.   

It’s hard to wrap our heads around all these multiple hardships faced together and in isolation, so Rand Rescue can only but provide some guidance on how to cope.

Think long term

One of the hardest things to wrap our heads around is how long this pandemic has been around and estimates for how long it may still linger.

South African health experts estimated that a fourth wave – hopefully the last – is likely to hit South Africa by December 2021. The cause of this fourth wave is based on global movement and mutation as well as sentiments.

Though cold and heat have no direct effect on the virus, it does change behaviour. In wintertime, people are both forced to congregate more indoors, and communal immunity is somewhat compromised due to other viral infections such as the flu. Another factor at play is that more affluent people tend to travel to warmer climates during winter.

Problematically, though the first waves around the world seemed to follow a rather congruent and concurrent trend, the same cannot be said for subsequent waves. New world regions were affected, government and social responses fluctuated, vaccine rollouts were secured for affluent countries only, travel restrictions varied and population numbers themselves affected the spread, peak and behaviour of the different waves. This also means that it’s pretty impossible to predict accurate global spread of containment of the virus.

For your own peace of mind, it’s best to consider this pandemic a longer term problem than you’d initially estimated. Indeed, such a longer term view can certainly make you rather despondent, but it’s far less emotionally taxing than expecting things to change swiftly around every bend.

At the height of global infection in 2020, many people moved their travel plans, weddings and other events up by a year, and many are now faced with the consequences of subsequent cancellation.

Businesses, and the travel and tourism industry in particular, envisioned a complete opening-up of business by now – and only those who’d prepared for a different scenario are now marginally prepared for another lockdown. It can be argued that they did not have the wherewithal or resources to prepare for a third wave, and yet the virus cares not for our personal sentiments.

Pakistan is already preparing for a third wave estimated to hit them in July 2021, with many other countries following suit. It is therefore far more practical and reasonable to assume that we’re still knee-deep in this pandemic and will be for a while to come.

Be conservative with your plans, and yet focus on innovations which can be executed during lockdown even if these aren’t aligned to your traditional business model.

Overhaul your methodologies

We don’t have much leeway when it comes to changing up our businesses. In fact, most of us have already made drastic changes to the way we do things.

It may therefore seem counterintuitive to expect you to make further changes to how you do things, but there’s sound psychology behind this advice. In the normal run of business sans pandemic, there are ample opportunities for diversifying your work, and you would normally not even notice these.

Meetings may take you to new restaurants where you will sample new food and meet new people. New staff will join the fold. Offices may be rearranged to an extent. You will travel. Your children’s schools will have events at different places. You will participate in training. New files will be placed on your desk. Building maintenance will make changes or improvements to architectural surroundings. There may be roadworks along your way. Each of these things, although seemingly inconsequential, provide both distraction and allows your mind to approach your daily activities in slightly different ways. Such minor changes to one’s day are crucial for mental health and wellbeing as it keeps those ruts in your mind moving.

The more confined your space or activities become, the less opportunity for diversity, distraction there are and the more mental activity is fixated on the small space and problems you face.

Within the confines of this lockdown, it’s therefore crucial to deliberately change things up in small ways. Change your office hours for a bit so you can work at night or start early morning. Rearrange your desk. Order lunch from different restaurants. Use tea breaks to watch podcasts. Just try to infuse your living and work space with new variables.

Give more…

Another thing which may seem counterintuitive at this time is to give more. Many of us are suffering from a type of novel charity fatigue, and it’s easy to want to give ourselves a break.

The thing is, when the whole of society is in crisis, our inherent response may be to stockpile time, money and luxuries for ourselves, but it is a moral imperative that we continue giving to others if we’re to see the human race through these tough times. While each of us struggle with our personal losses, we risk isolating ourselves even more by retreating from society.

This does not mean that you cannot give to yourself. Perhaps the crux is that you simply give more to others and yourself. Set time aside for charity work – whether it’s just to give advice to businesses or individuals. Instead of giving projects to large corporations – see if you can split these up into smaller projects which can be managed by micro businesses and individuals instead. Buy local produce and supplies which individuals rely on to stay afloat. Giving has been shown to have a remarkable impact on our emotional wellbeing, so even though you may have less to give than before, make sure to give nonetheless.

And, to satisfy your own need for empathy and relaxation – set dedicated time aside for frivolous pursuits and personal joys. Make sure you demarcate the time and resources dedicated to giving to yourself and others in order the two divergent acts are enjoyed for their own merit.

Innovation for hobbies

It’s frustrating that so many of our normal extracurricular pursuits have been restricted. The overwhelming sentiment is that of frustration. But we cannot let these frustrations become lasting hurdles to recreational pursuits.

It’s true that tastes and talents differ, and it may be hard to move outdoor or social activities indoors or to restricted spaces, but it’s not impossible.

Now more than ever you have the opportunity to learn new tricks and trades. Whether you do this through online learning, by immersing yourself in new handicrafts or a combination of both – make sure to do so.

These pursuits are not only crucial for mental stability and stress relief, but can also provide additional income or a change of your career path in future. Moreover, new crafts will open doors to new social circles and networks which you’d not been privy to before.

Change your screentime

It’s not always easy to limit screentime when you’re stuck at home, in your office or your city, but you can surely change what you use this screentime for and what you expose yourself to.

It’s important to take frequent breaks from social media in order to recoup and limit your exposure to all the bad news out in the world. Many people have become rather fixated on news and watching statistics and analyses online, and although this is good for staying on top of matters, it should not be a continuous activity.

Take 10 minutes a day to play brain games on your phone instead, listen to podcasts, watch DIY channels on YouTube or other platforms. Spend some time watching the live nature feed by the various natural platforms out there. Dedicate an hour each week to online learning. Just redistribute the time spend online or in front of your devices in such a way that you experience new things, take a break from your preferred media and mediums and take a break from the news every other day.

Seek help

If it were easy to open up about our feelings and emotions, there’d be far less mental health issues and lifestyle illnesses like heart disease, obesity and even certain types of cancer would be less pervasive.

People would reach less for harmful coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking, over-eating and over-working, most people will get enough sleep and rest, participate more in physical activities and there’d be less emotional and physical abuse and trauma in households.

Of course once cannot really quantify the true cause and effect mentioned above. We can make a case for correlation, but not for causation. Yet despite this, it’s still important that we identify when it’s necessary to seek help for dealing with stress, trauma, grief, loss and anxiety.

There’s a wealth of information available online to guide you towards the right resources or professionals who can assist you. Many medical aids, employers and governments offer free counselling services and anonymity is usually at the order of the day.

Asking for help is in no way a sign of weakness as is so often touted by mainstream media and Hollywood films. It is, instead, a sign of your own commitment to personal and communal wellbeing and an indication of emotional maturity. Whether you simply need a sounding-board or are looking for critical advice for your personal situation, reach out and ask for it! It’s not just your prerogative, but your gift to yourself and your loved ones to seek help.

Need help?

Rand Rescue certainly doesn’t have the knowledge or accreditation to assist you with your mental and emotional trauma, but we can help ease the financial burden for those living abroad or planning on emigrating.

We’re the preferred cross-border financial specialist for South African emigrants and have helped thousands of South Africa navigate the tricky administrative waters of cross-border finance.

We’re an authorised forex dealer with existing relationships with major banks, fund administrators and tax authorities.

Talk to us about your options and leave the stress to us!

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