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Coping with COVID: Learning To Walk The Parallel Paths of Change

17 Apr 2020, Posted by Seasons in Community

It can be overwhelming to look back on the last month or so and think about how much our lives have changed. During this COVID-19 pandemic, we find ourselves enduring countless changes as a result of this slow-moving crisis. This has become a time marked by stress, anxiety, fear, adjustment, sadness, grief, pain, courage, and hope for so many.

The challenge for all of us is how we manage these drastic changes. A powerful lesson we’ve learned in hospice is how to endure significant changes and losses. We’ve learned that to cope meaningfully with change we must both “grieve our losses” and “restore a feeling of well-being.” In other words, our task is to learn to walk the Parallel Paths of Change:  Path 1: Grieving our Losses and Path 2: Restoring Well-Being.

Path 1: Grieving Our Losses

We know we’re on this path when we’re grieving and longing for the way life used to be. Another indicator we’re on this path is when we think about meaningful memories and the joys and comforts of the past. We may also have strong feelings of sadness, loneliness, and pain.

To walk this path takes courage, patience, and compassion.

Path 2: Restoring Well-Being

We know we’re on this path when we’re learning to live life in a new way. Some call this the “new normal.”  On this path we often feel like we’re struggling to manage so many real changes.

To walk this path takes grit, resilience, and hope.

Where do these paths lead?

To effectively manage change we must spend considerable time walking these parallel paths. Thankfully, both paths lead to the same destination.  At first, the only sign that we’re on the right track are those brief moments when we can finally take a deep breath without feeling overwhelmed by either grief or stress. As our hope builds, we’ve grieved losses, and restored a sense of well-being, a stronger feeling will emerge. We all have different words to describe what it feels like when we get there. Some of us might describe this feeling as “a newfound meaning,” “growth,” “acceptance” or “peace.”

Be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you weave through both paths. We will get through this, together.

 

Content adapted from: Dual Process Model by Stroebe & Schut (1999) 

About the Author: Joshua Magariel, LCSW, is a National Director of Patient Experience at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care. Josh specializes in grief and loss education and support as well as marriage and family therapy. Josh is a national presenter and author on creative applications of attachment theory in grief therapy. Josh earned his B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and his MSW at the University of Denver. Josh has completed an AAMFT accredited Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Denver Family Institute. Josh is a ten-year veteran of hospice having served in patient care, bereavement, leadership, and education.