09 April, 2020

Cancelled holidays. Delayed weddings. Limited funeral gatherings.

These are all big events and with their postponement or cancellation come big feelings. But these ‘big things’ aren’t the only changes to life as we know it right now.

Maybe your child’s sports league, which you loved attending, was cancelled for the season.

Or maybe you were really looking forward to getting together with your friends and family for a baby shower.

Or maybe you just miss the comfort of your normal routine – going to the shopping centre, packing the kids off to school, and playing at the playground.

In the grand scheme of things, these inconveniences might seem small; so small that you shouldn’t be too upset. Because, after all, there are much worse things going on in the world. If the worst you experience is to miss out on the local 10km fun run, then you are doing well.

But even though we understand this fact, it doesn’t always help the creeping sadness we can start to feel when we think about all the moments and memories we are missing during this tough time.


Is it normal to feel sad about missing out on things because of coronavirus?

Absolutely. And to make it harder, in times like this, we often feel multiple types of grief. This might include specific grief over things you’re experiencing right now, centred around the known impacts to your life, like events or routines.

You could also feel more of an ambiguous grief – one that focuses on the unknown. No-one knows yet how long our lives will be significantly impacted by this pandemic, and so our minds struggle to deal with the ‘what ifs’.

While it’s important to cancel events for the benefit of public health, it’s also important to allow ourselves – and others – to grieve those cancellations. Feeling sad that we are missing out on things important to us does not make us terrible people. It makes us human.

All of these feelings, along with other emotions like frustration and anger, are completely normal to experience in times of disruption and uncertainty.

But it’s important to acknowledge and understand why you feel the way that you do, and to unpack that a little in order to move forward and allow space for more positive emotions and behaviours.


Getting through grief you feel about COVID-19 cancellations

Keep in mind that grieving is a process, and it will have ups and downs. One day, you might feel like you’re coming to terms with your ‘new normal’, then the next you might be struggling to make it through the day. Your process will be unique to you, and there is no ‘correct’ way to move through your feelings.

Allow yourself time and be kind to yourself.

What you can do to help yourself

You might be seeing people and images online promoting productivity while you’re stuck at home, but if you don’t feel like learning a new language, baking a new healthy treat every day and getting to work on that novel you’ve always dreamed about, don’t beat yourself up.

Try to stay focused on what is important to you, whatever that looks like.

You might find it helpful to:

  • Stay in touch with your friends and family, and plan dedicated time to spend talking with them
  • Plan something new to look forward to in the future, even if it’s just a barbeque with friends
  • Ask for help from a professional counsellor or psychologist
  • Maintain your physical wellbeing by eating as well as you can and getting outside for approved physical activity
  • Manage stress through self-care activities that resonate with you like listening to music, painting, doing a puzzle or meditating.

Try to do things you enjoy, even if you don’t really feel like doing them in the moment.

How to help someone else going through it

Helping others through this time can be really challenging. We might be physically separated from them, making it hard to figure out exactly what is going on and how they might like to be helped.

We might be in close proximity with them 24/7, making it hard to separate frustration with the situation from frustration with the person – especially if their grief is causing them to act out of character.

We might be struggling with our own emotions, making it hard to find the mental resources to help someone else.

Or we might just not know what to say or do.

The good news is we often don’t need to say or do much at all. It can be as simple as offering love and support.

This could mean you ask how they’re feeling and take the time to listen and understand what they say to you.

Or you might find some joint comfort in talking about interesting topics that are unrelated to grief, loss, and the current situation.

And if you’re in doubt about how best to help them, try asking. They might not know, but asking the question shows that you are there and you care.

If their grief doesn’t seem to be easing over time, it’s important to encourage them to seek professional support.


Feeling upset because of all the ways COVID-19 has impacted (and may impact) your life is normal and OK. 

If you need to talk, you can call our telephone counsellors on 1300 364 277.


Check out our article on isolating at home with your family for some handy tips on improving your home life through this challenging period.