Stay at Home Tips: What to do if you experience change and loss during the pandemic

See more Extension Stay at Home Tips from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

For reliable information you can trust about COVID-19 go to www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19

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What to do if you experience change and loss during the pandemic

Recently, we have all experienced loss of some sort. There are many examples:

  • Loss of physical closeness with those outside our home
  • Loss of  in-person gatherings due to physical distancing
  • Loss of freedom to move about without an increased awareness of risk
  • Loss of the opportunity to say goodbye and to celebrate the life of someone we loved who died

Each of us can create a list of our current and future (anticipated) losses. For many of us, we have only attributed grief to the physical loss of someone. The reality is, this time period is filled with very real loss and grief is a normal and expected reaction. 

One of the most important things we can do is to acknowledge the losses we are experiencing. Taking note of our feelings and expressions of grief is the first step to identify ways to take the best care we can of ourselves.

Take good care of yourself

  • Be patient with yourself, consider letting go of things that might not need attention right now.
  • Learn more about the grief you may be feeling.
  • Create a “not yet” list of things to look forward to when our physical distancing requirements are lifted.
  • Connect with people in your life using technology, a phone call or writing letters.
  • Get outdoors as much as you can. Sit on your porch, go for a walk, work in your yard, or plant a container garden.
  • Maintain a regular routine, including mealtimes and bedtimes.
  • Recognize that grief can show itself in different ways (anger, sadness, sleeplessness, inability to focus or plan, forgetfulness).
  • Give yourself time to manage your feelings: Start a journal to write your thoughts during this time, talk about your feelings with others, or find another creative outlet to express what you are experiencing and create meaning in your loss.
  • Don’t forget that many of the emotions associated with grief require physical attention to manage: exercise, sleep, and healthy eating will support your body.
  • It might feel too new right now to identify positives that might emerge; a gratitude practice can help us focus ourselves on the good that is still present in the world. 
  • Organize family photos. Remembering a happy memory releases in our brain the same “feel-good” chemicals that flooded it at the time of the actual experience.
  • Recognize that anxiety can be increased when we aren’t sure of what our future holds and what additional losses may come over time.

Remember

  • It’s OK to ask for help. If you are feeling distressed, call the National Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990) for emotional support, or call 2-1-1 and ask about your county’s emotional support hotline.
  • If you need medical care or advice, stay home and call your doctor or clinic. If you have an emergency, call 911. If you become sick or feel unwell, make sure a family member or friend knows that you are unwell and ask them to check on you by phone or video chat every day. 

Get organized

Post a contact list on your fridge or near your phone:

  • Name and phone number of your doctor and pharmacy
  • Family contacts
  • Neighbors
  • Other frequently called numbers

Know where to find resources to get help meeting your needs:

For more information, ideas, and tips

What you need to know about COVID-19

What are the symptoms? Two to 14 days after exposure, people may experience:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Not everyone with COVID-19 has all of these symptoms. For many, symptoms are mild, with no fever. It is important to know that you can still spread (transmit) the virus to others even if you have mild or no symptoms.

What should I do if I develop symptoms?

If you become ill, stay home and call your doctor if you feel you need medical care or advice. If you are having an emergency, call 911. 

  • Each day, write down your symptoms so you can share accurate information with your doctor. 
  • Make sure a family member or friend knows that you are unwell and ask them to check on you by phone or video chat every day. Even mild illnesses can quickly take a turn for the worse.
  • Practice good self-care. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

What can I do to prevent getting COVID-19?

  • Stay home as much as possible to protect yourself and others.
  • When possible, shop for two weeks of groceries at a time to expose yourself less often.
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after touching door handles, keypads, pens, and other frequently used surfaces.

FOR RELIABLE INFORMATION YOU CAN TRUST, about staying safe and what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms, go to www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19

TO RECEIVE HELP 

  • Call the National Disaster Distress Helpline to speak to a trained crisis counselor
    • 800-985-5990
    • 800-846-8517 (TTY)
    • Or text:  TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Access information and resources to help you meet your immediate needs
  • Call 2-1-1
    • Contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center

See more Extension Stay at Home Tips 

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