Our current society is riddled with triggers of grief and sadness, and many of us are feeling overwhelmed by the constant negativity and pain posted across social media and news outlets.
However, for many young people, these feelings of grief and loss are unprecedented. Many have found that leaning on our community and finding common ground through grief may be the most effective way to cope.
This year has proven to be the most difficult year ever for many Americans. Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19, the Black community has been fighting the culmination of centuries of racism and loss including the murders of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd, and the continuation of the COVID pandemic has stripped many Americans of social freedoms and the ability to work.
Additionally, young people are dealing with feelings of grief and loss that they have never been confronted with before. In the face of these unprecedented emotions, maintaining good mental health and finding ways to cope can seem almost impossible.
The world around us is mourning their losses and finding ways to cope with persisting negativity and unrest. In finding peace with our grief from losing loved ones, and coping with emotions towards the ongoing obstacles in our current lives, it is important to establish these support systems and coping strategies.
Organize a socially distanced memorial to commemorate losses with others.
When we lose someone or are feeling a sense of loss about something that has happened, we must find a way to come together with others who are going through the same thing.
A socially distanced memorial may seem like a small act, but in the present moment, it can be meaningful. Even if you have not lost someone but are feeling grief about something else, you can still memorialize whatever it is you have lost.
For example, many may find solace in protesting, organizing support groups for Black Lives Matter(BLM) to discuss these emotions of grief, as well as painting murals to commemorate the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd. It may be painful, but memorializing loss can ultimately be healing, as well as strengthen the bond between the participants.
Find ways to honor the person you’ve lost.
In addition to memorializing someone, celebrating the person you’ve lost can be extremely healing as well. Grief stems from a feeling of emptiness left by the loss of someone or something you care deeply for.
In order to fill this void and find comfort, it can be therapeutic to integrate the legacy of this person or thing into your life.
This type of coping strategy isn’t meant to remind you of your sadness, but is rather meant to help you remember them and your memories with them for years to come.
Another way to honor someone and celebrate their life may be to start a fundraiser in their honor, which has actually been a huge building block of the current momentum of BLM efforts.
You could also plan an outdoor, socially distanced dinner with members of your community where you share the favorite foods of the person you have lost and go around the table telling stories about happy memories made with that person.
Honoring a loss is all about remembering someone and celebrating the positivity they brought to your life.
Remind yourself of a “silver lining.”
Although dealing with grief and loss can be extremely devastating and detrimental to your mental health, it is especially important to try to find positive things that you can take away from the situation.
Remind yourself of how lucky you are to have loved the person you have lost, as well as of all of the things that they taught you that you can take with you for the rest of your life.
The bonds that you form with other people who are also grieving the loss of that person will become stronger than ever, and you can find meaning in forming this new support system. Further, feeling grief and loss often pushes us to reach out to and hold close the people we love.
Though the current world is in a state of unrest and aggression, many have seen how negativity in our lives can bring people together and bring clarity to the things we care about the most. As we focus on that “silver lining,” we can begin to heal together.
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