The Ohio State University Alumni Association

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Cope with loss and uncertainty

Constructive, productive actions you can take to process feelings of anxiety and loss

Pat Kastner

“You’d have to be a robot to not feel anxious right now,” says Sophie Lazarus ’11 MA, ’15 PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Wexner Medical Center. “There is an understandable hugeness of loss. We’re experiencing change, and change is painful. We all really struggle with change. One quote that really stands out to me is by Eckhart Tolle, who said, ‘Some changes look negative on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.’”

Be kind to yourself.

“It’s really easy to compare yourself to other people or to your productivity or engagement at other times. That’s not really a fair comparison. We tend to think that talking to ourselves in a harsh way is going to motivate us, but it tends to do the opposite. It really makes us feel worse or discouraged. Give yourself a bit of grace.”

Honor and acknowledge your emotions.

“There’s going to be sadness, disappointment and frustration. Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel that way. When we allow ourselves to just feel emotions, they tend to not last very long. When we get pulled into resisting, not wanting or trying to fix the emotion, we tend to get stuck in rumination.”

Broaden your focus.

“One thing that can be helpful at this moment is to connect with how uncertainty is such a universal difficulty. Everybody, in some way, is struggling with it. Acknowledging that can kick us out of this feeling of isolation and self-focus. I also think just acknowledging it as normal helps.”

Pause to ponder the past.

“Look back at a time when you had to make a huge adjustment or felt, ‘I’ll never get over this, I’ll never get through it,’ and acknowledge how you came out of it. Or look back at times in history that were full of loss and uncertainty, when things seemed bleak, but know that life went on for people.”