By Stacia Lee Macklin, LCSW, ACSW
As we navigated physical distancing and isolation during the pandemic, this image of a simple and straightforward To-Do List caught my attention. The “Isolation Well-Being Daily To-Do List” was created by therapist and artist Lindsay Braman in March 2020 and went viral when it was shared and reposted across social media platforms. With so much uncertainty and mixed emotions during the pandemic, this To-Do List provided needed encouragement and structure. I continue to share this resource with grievers still now post-pandemic—because in our grief we can often feel overwhelmed by uncertainty, isolation, and low energy. I encourage those I support to take a look at this when they are struggling with waves of grief, facing a special occasion or milestone without their loved one, or worrying about the future. During some of the most challenging days in our grief journey, a gentle reminder to take a shower, stay hydrated, and tend to one living thing (including a plant or pet) can be meaningful. Quick mindfulness exercises that engage our senses and doing “one thing to get your heart rate up” tap into the benefits of mindfulness and kinetic activity/movement. Having a good laugh and doing “one thing you’ll be glad you did later” are nods to the power of practicing gratitude. In our grief, we may find ourselves feeling isolated both physically and emotionally. We may be living alone now, working remotely apart from colleagues, engaging in fewer activities with friends, or struggling to find others who understand our grief. We may feel overwhelmed with both tasks and emotions related to our loved one’s death, as well as by other responsibilities and challenges that already existed before our loss. While the original intent of the “Isolation Well-Being Daily To-Do List” was to combat the isolation and overwhelm felt by so many during the pandemic, it can serve as a resource for grievers as well. This kindness-based To-Do List provides reminders to support self-care, forward motion, and hope during particularly challenging periods in our grief journey.