Disappointment and Covid-19 - Jigsaw Online - Advice for young people

Disappointment and Covid-19

Many of us have felt a sense of disappointment and loss since early March, when the impact of Covid-19 began. Life as we knew it, stopped in its tracks.

There we were walking through life and a roadblock was dragged in front of us. Beyond it we could imagine the things we had planned, or hoped to do. Parties, sleepovers, meeting friends, holidays, exams, graduations or going to work had all been cancelled.

Less obvious things that many of us have lost are the freedom to plan or spontaneously leaving the house.

Feel disappointment your way

Each person will notice or feel these disappointments differently. Some of us may not feel much loss at all and are just rolling with the situation.

We may find it difficult to describe specific feelings, but notice a longing for life as it was. There may be a sense of sadness, moodiness, hopelessness, anger or anxiety.

We might notice the feelings of disappointment quite clearly. It might come as a feeling in our body, heart or belly, along with thoughts of what we are missing, the plans we had or people we haven’t seen for some time now.

Feelings might run deeper for some losses more than others. Sometimes the feeling of disappointment can be very strong, even for something that we might think is small.

Many of us can tell ourselves we have no right to feel sad about something, as others might have‘bigger losses’.

Allow yourself to experience the disappointment

With difficult feelings such as loss it can be tempting to avoid them. For some people that might be helpful, but it’s for each person to decide what’s best for them. However, feelings often have a way of bubbling back to the surface if we don’t acknowledge them!

Tell yourself whatever ‘feeling’ you are having, it is OK to have that feeling.

Don’t make comparisons 

Many of us can tell ourselves we have no right to feel sad about something, as others might have‘bigger losses’. Often people will tell themselves, ‘it’s not a big deal, I could be worse off’. Perhaps this is true, however, it doesn’t mean that our own feelings of disappointment are less valid.

Be curious

To help cope with feelings of disappointment, begin by checking in and noticing your feelings. There is no need to force this but it can help to be curious about them. Get to know what feelings are there at a pace that feels right for you.

Ask yourself, how have I dealt with similar feelings before? Each of us has our own way of dealing with emotions, there is no ‘right way’.  What is important is what feels right to you.

Somethings that might help in dealing with strong emotions include:

  • Soothe using your senses – a hug, wrap in a blanket, make a favourite meal, watch movie together, hot chocolate, be in nature
  • Getting active and exercise
  • Breathing and relaxation
  • Meaningful and enjoyable activities
  • Get some perspective – what would this look like from the moon? Or a year from now.

Express what you feel

Write about how you feel, not in the way you would write for school, more like just getting it out on paper. You could also tell someone about your feelings of disappointment, although this can sometimes be difficult or scary. Remind yourself there is no need to explain why you are experiencing a sense of loss, you might not even know yourself. Simply allowing yourself to share that it’s there can be enough.

Connect with the meaning of the loss and disappointment

What’s the thing that you are most affected by? Marking a milestone? The chance for photographs for the wall or social media? Being with friends? Seeing a new place?

Can some of this be recreated in these current circumstances? For example, organise a virtual party with friends or have a special meal to mark an occasion. Encourage classmates to send cards/video messages. Meet outdoors with a small group of friends and organise celebrations around phases of reopening.

People only feel loss for that which they care about. Those feelings of loss probably mean that you cared about whatever it is you are missing.

Loss and disappointment is part of life

While disappointment due to Covid-19 may be short-term, learning to live with loss, is an ongoing part of life. To love is to experience loss, they are both very closely linked. People only feel loss for that which they care about. Those feelings of loss probably mean that you cared about whatever it is you are missing. Having feelings can be tough but they are a rich part of being a human.

Hold on to hope

Remind yourself that with all loss, something new eventually comes in its place. Have you ever felt sad when the summer ends and you see the leaves turn red, brown and yellow, and fall away? Loss is part of the life cycle, and after each summer come the colours of autumn – which can remind us that letting go is part of life.