The past 15 months have been truly unprecedented in the history of our lives. Everything we are accustomed to doing and everything we consider normal has been turned on its head. The world is grappling with how to live with a pandemic that is affecting not just our physical health, but our mental health and emotional well-being, our relationships and social circles, and also affecting our school, college and work lives. People are feeling helpless and life is very unpredictable. Everyone has sadly lost a loved one, a neighbour, a co-worker or a dear friend to Covid-19. The opportunities to gather with others to mourn these losses have been denied because of lockdowns, social distancing and other “living-in-Covid-times” guidelines. Traditions, rituals and other practices have had to be put aside, which makes it even more difficult to cope. Many are also dealing with anticipatory grief – the feeling that greater loss is yet to come.
It is only natural that given these times you are experiencing a range of emotions such as feeling anger, anxiety, helplessness, sadness and depression. These are signs of grief over the loss not just over an unexpected death, but the loss of life as you knew it. The inability to go to college in person, but having to attend all your classes online, work from home and juggle house work and family obligations, participate in weddings or graduation parties via zoom, or even a funeral are all the new ways you have had to adapt these past several months. Not being able to move out of your home without wearing a mask, sometimes even double masking, is a basic requirement to avoid the spread of the virus.
Grief may also cause you to feel numb and empty as well as lose the ability to feel joy or sadness. Physical symptoms such as excessive fatigue, muscle weakness, change in sleep patterns and eating habits are not uncommon. If you are living alone, the grief is compounded by the feeling of loneliness, as you cannot socialize with close friends and family members or even hug or hold someone close to you.
Talking to a mental health professional such as myself can be helpful. There is a myth that being in therapy is a sign of weakness, when in fact, reaching out for help is an act of courage and definitely one of the first steps of this journey. As your therapist, I will be with you every step of the way. As a specialist in grief and loss I will gently help you navigate this path where you will find new ways of coping with your losses. There is no right or wrong way of feeling profound sadness and grief. It is imperative that you work through your feelings at your own pace. I will guide you, teach you to be compassionate and kind to yourself, challenge you to find your strengths and help you find options and develop healthy coping skills. I can assure you of a safe, non-judgmental, understanding and nurturing environment for you to explore your emotions, thoughts, choices and behaviours.
The relationship you forge with me, your therapist, is essential to the effectiveness of the process. It is very important that you feel comfortable with me. Honesty is an important ingredient of this relationship. Making yourself vulnerable to another human being is not easy, especially a stranger. It is possible that talking about some things can be very painful for you. What will allow you to make lasting positive changes in your life is trusting that it is safe to release both your negative and positive feelings, as well as realizing that the therapeutic relationship will give you the opportunity to explore your sources of conflict and confusion in an empathetic and safe environment.
Every individual is unique and hence working with you will help me determine the most effective treatment plan for you, incorporating a combination of approaches and techniques, some of which include cognitive–behavioural therapy, image transformation therapy, creative therapies and mindfulness. If, during the assessment or after a few sessions I determine that a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action, I will refer you to a psychiatrist who will do a thorough assessment to determine what medication is best suited for you.
It will be my privilege to work with you so please call or email to set up your first appointment. My practice welcomes people from diverse backgrounds and different faiths as well as members of the LGBTQIA community.