The COVID-19 pandemic has taken with it a lot of lives, leaving behind a trail of tears and grief. The deadly virus has overtaken chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to become the second biggest cause of death in India, just behind ischemic heart disease.
When such a tragedy strikes us suddenly and unexpectedly, many of us can bounce back from it pretty quickly. But others suffer significant psychological damage while getting over their hardships. Why is it that some of us have it easy and others don’t?
Scientist George Bonanno examined a group of people who had lost their loved ones in a tragedy for two years. In his study, he concluded there are four types of grief. The first and common one is the resilient type. In this type, the people exhibited little to no symptoms and recovered pretty quickly. The second type is the chronic type. The people under this category suffered from permanent psychological issues even after two years of the tragedy. The third type is the healed type. This type consists of people who recovered from their initial symptoms within two years. The last type is the delayed type, in which people had delayed reactions to the tragedy.
How are different people classified into the above-explained types? Amygdala is the reason behind this. It scrutinizes the surroundings for potential dangers and alerts the body. Sometimes it detects threats in even harmless situations. Such people who have highly sensitive amygdala suffer severe symptoms often.
Grief is a natural response to the loss. Some of us might have lost someone we love or watched others lose someone they loved. Both of them are more or less an equally harrowing experience.
Grief brings about changes in the mental and emotional state of mind. We feel helpless, dazed, disorientated, confused and lost. Even simple tasks such as waking up in the morning may seem tedious. You might have been an excellent multitasker. But now, everything seems impossible without your partner by your side.
Other than affecting us psychologically, it can also manifest into poor physical health. Some of the symptoms often observed are the risk of blood clots and heart attack, disrupted sleep patterns, changes in the immune system.
Nonetheless, grieving is a normal but very intense reaction. It is the brain’s way of readjusting to the new normal of life without your partner. You remember them, you miss them, and you want them back. Your brain tries to rewire itself to help you relearn life in their absence.
As with every physical injury, your mind needs some time to heal too. There are some strategies to help you find your new normal.
The foremost thing is to have a support system, be it family, friends or both. Reminiscence the memories with your deceased loved one. Share stories about them with one another. By doing so, you help the amygdala to help find your feet.
Build a sense of connection with your memories without losing grip on the reality of their death. With acceptance comes peace. Baby steps. There is no rush. And with time, you will remember them without the feeling of pain in your heart.