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Coping with loss during a pandemic

This post is written by Priya Vithani, NLMT Music Therapist.

Everyone will be experiencing a range of emotions during the global COVID-19 pandemic, including loss in some form or another. Many of us may have experienced loss at this time; loss of control, future plans, holidays, jobs, abrupt academic endings - or, most distressingly, loss of a loved one.

How do we cope with loss? Can we cope?

There isn’t a “one answer fits all” solution surrounding such a challenging feeling. I asked a sample of people how they’re coping with various losses right now and here are some of the responses I received:

Loss of time with a partner

“I’ve taken each day as it comes, one day I’ll run 5k, and another, I’ll binge TV in my pyjamas. I’m listening to my body and my mind and I’m doing everything I can to block out all pessimistic thoughts.”

Loss of work

“Trying to remain grateful, seeing the positives in every day, exercising and keeping up community spirit; you are allowed to feel sad and indulge in those feelings.” [self-employed]

Loss of routine

“I wrote a rough plan to use every day; I haven’t stuck to the times properly, but it gives me some form of structure.”
“I’ve been spending a lot of time playing ukulele, that’s it really!”

Living alone (loss of company)

“I’m living alone now which is tough, so I’m working on the wards this weekend” [from a front-line worker]

Loss of a loved one

“I lost my aunt on Friday; I’ve been avoiding stress by playing too much Animal Crossing”

From just a few responses to a simple question, it’s clear to see that everyone copes with various losses very differently. Some people create a structured routine, others exercise, some get creative and others play games. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another - but one of the most important things to maintain is balance, as well as communication with family and friends where possible.

During uncertain times, we will most likely find ourselves unable to visit our loved ones. This prospect alone is a difficult one, made even more difficult if that loved one is unwell. They may be at home living away from you, in a hospital, or even a hospice. Whether suffering from Covid-19, or another illness, it can be heart-breaking not being able to see your loved one, especially when the outcome is surrounded by uncertainty. So, how can we manage?


This attempts a more pragmatic solution. Nowadays, the majority of us will have access to a device which allows us to video call, meaning we can keep in touch with friends and family. However, this could be accompanied by more challenging emotions which don’t have such practical answers; how to help ourselves while experiencing difficult feelings?


This can come in many forms; be sure to make time to undertake activities you find relaxing, such as taking a bath, reading a book, watching tv, being creative, or even having a nap.

Emotional needs

We need to make sure our practical needs are met. Do you have all the essentials you need to simply survive? Are your physical/medical needs attended to? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to address your emotional needs. One useful way to do this is writing.

Writing Task:

  • Set a timer for three-minutes. No more, no less.

  • Use a pen and paper rather than technology.

  • If something in particular is bothering you, use this time to express it.

  • Your writing may be in the form of a letter; to a loved one, a friend, yourself, or maybe even to a person of conflict.

  • Once the three minutes is up, stop writing.

  • It’s up to you what to do with your writing once you’re done, but keep it to yourself.

This is a healthy way to express difficult feelings without allowing them to become overbearing. Make sure you find time to do something you find relaxing afterwards.

It may be easier said than done, but know there will be an end to this. Life will continue. Remember to keep that in sight.

Book your free initial consultation with North London Music Therapy here.

Find our more about North London Music Therapy's Support During COVID-19 for front line key workers here.

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