As Americans continue to grapple with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, many are struggling to cope with the loss of friends and loved ones.
“It is 100% normal for all of us to be feeling stressed and anxious about what’s going on,” she says. “And it’s even more normal to be having some signs and symptoms of grief because we’re all dealing with a collective grief of things we’re losing, and for some of us it’s personal and we’re losing people that we love,” Hartstein adds.
“If someone’s not as sick and in the hospital—bringing groceries, having a driveway ‘Hello’—any of those kinds of things where you can just show up and be present,” she says. “We have to be creative. It’s going to be different but we can still show up in some kind of meaningful way.”
When dealing with someone who is sick and anxious about their prognosis, knowing what not to say can be vital.
“Keeping it neutral is your best bet because it allows the other person to express themselves without trying to be talked out of it,” she advises. “In those moments where we’re trying to be supportive, the things not to say are things like, ‘Well at least it could get better’ or ‘At least you’re not in the hospital,’ or ‘Look what happened to that person.’ Any sort of comparison or any sort of minimizing of their emotional experience is going to backfire.”
If you’ve lost someone close to you, then you may be struggling with grief.
“You have to provide yourself the space and the opportunity to be in your grief and be mindful not to get stuck in the ‘guilt’ of the grief,” says Hartstein.
She continued, “It’s very easy to be like ‘survivor’s guilt—you should have known, you should have been more present, you should have done something differently.’ It services you not at all to do that,” she says. “Being able to mourn the way you would normally mourn, leaning on your supports, allowing yourself to be sad, talking about the person in ways that keep their memories alive, things like that are super helpful and allow you to move through the process in the pace that you need to.”
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