Please Scream Inside Your Heart: Compounded Loss and Coping during the COVID-19 Pandemic


School of Communication and Media

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Individuals are experiencing unprecedented personal challenges as a result of the novel COVID-19 virus. Stay at home orders and social distancing guidelines were in place, which has had a direct effect on American lives: forcing the cancellation of events, ending in-person school or childcare, forcing remote work environments, and leading to drastic changes to recreational activities. All these life changes can be experienced as losses that lead to real grief. However, grieving in the time of COVID-19 is fraught with unique challenges. This study recruited 257 participants from across North America to participate in an online survey investigating the types of losses experienced due to COVID-19, feelings of guilt and delegitimization, communal coping, and general coping behaviors. Results indicate that people experienced various losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which were compounded and varying in degrees of intensity (e.g., loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of physical activity routine). Because of these differences in intensity, people felt guilty for grieving over their losses, and subsequently were less likely to appraise the losses as communal and more likely to utilize avoidant coping mechanisms on their own. The theoretical and public health implications of the study are discussed.

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Health communication

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