Grieving life’s big changes during Covid-19

The cancellation of weddings and other life events count


Landis Bejar, LMHC is the founder of Aisle Talk, a wedding therapy practice that now counsels couples who are working through the stress of postponing their weddings during Covid-19.

With weddings and our Wedding Crashers events on pause, we launched a series of webinars with our vendors to give couples guidance when there is little clarity on when New York will allow large gatherings again. Our second talk in the series focused on how to care for your mind, body and relationships during Covid-19. Landis Bejar, LMHC, founder of wedding therapy practice Aisle Talk; personality type expert and personal coach Doris Fullgrabe, founder of Your Love Profiles; Lilia Karimi, CEO and co-founder of wedding wellness platform Luv Collective; and Rachel Sito, studio manager of Orangetheory Fitness Brooklyn-Midwood all offered their expert advice, much of which applies to everyone affected by the pandemic, not just those in the midst of wedding planning. We learned new ways to think about grief, how much physical exercise we should be getting in quarantine and how good it is for our mental health, what meditation can do for us right now, and how learning and accepting your partner’s personality type can help your relationship. 

To see the webinar, which was moderated by Ashley Mikoletic Cheng of Wedding Crashers, you can watch it here; it includes a guided meditation so you’ll be able to practice one of the skills discussed. Below is an excerpt from Landis Bejar’s discussion of grief; the full transcript is available on the Wedding Crashers blog.

Landis Bejar, Aisle Talk:

I’m Landis Bejar. I’m a licensed mental health counselor, and I’m the founder of Aisle Talk. We are a therapy and coaching practice specifically devoted to working with people who are coping with wedding stress, or need premarital counseling, leading up until that big life transition of getting married. So, naturally, during this time, we’re supporting a lot of our folks with dealing with this new normal and what it means to navigate having to postpone, cancel, or I think one of the biggest things is in that ambiguous place of not knowing what to do. So, that’s a big topic for us in our sessions lately and what we’re talking about with our clients and helping them cope with…

…What does grief look like? Grief, I think many of us can picture sadness, that’s an obvious feeling that might come up, but maybe you’ve also heard of some of the other emotions that come along with grief. A big one is, the first one that usually hits us is shock or denial, right? And that denial is a healthy denial. It tells us, “I can’t process this all at once,” and it’s when you say like, “I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe we have to do this.” That’s the denial we’re talking about, and the shock.

We talk about bargaining, which is kind of like, “Oh, if we had only planned the wedding two months earlier, we would have had it, we would have been fine. If we’d only planned it six months later, we would have been fine, we would have been in the clear. If somebody would just tell me what to do right now, I could manage this a little bit better.” So, that’s what bargaining looks like when it comes to grief.

We have anger, we might be really angry, frustrated, we might be taking that out on the right people or the wrong people. We do have sadness, and then eventually we have acceptance. We’re not happy about anything but we’re accepting the new normal and what we have to do to kind of move on and not stay in this place.

So, what do we do? This is kind of the last step. We have to acknowledge that it’s normal to have these feelings. The more we get in a battle of, “Well, I don’t have it as bad as my neighbor who this is going through,” or “This is not somebody getting sick, this is just a wedding, this is just a party,” that stops our grieving process. That is a form of denying our feelings, invalidating our feelings, and when we invalidate our feelings, we don’t get to process them.

So, what we want, what your therapist would tell you is you have a right to feel this way. Maybe you don’t have a right to go up to your neighbor whose family members are sick and tell them all about how you’re sad about your wedding, but you have a right to feel it within yourself, to talk about it with somebody who cares about you, somebody who’s non-judgmental, and someone who can be on the same page with you and make space for you. And most importantly, make space for yourself, right? Because sometimes it’s not other people telling us we don’t deserve to feel that way, it’s our own selves, right? “I can’t believe I’m sad about this. This is silly.” So, giving yourself space to feel that way is really important.

And then also acknowledging that it comes in many forms, right? So, if we’re just expecting to feel sad or we’re just expecting to feel frustrated, then when we feel angry about something, we’re confused by it, or we don’t acknowledge it for what it is, or something like that. So, really, really be expecting to have a range of emotions, to not necessarily handle them the best every time, but to really feel them and to really process them. And doing that might involve writing about them, might involve crying, might involve screaming into a pillow, might involve an Orangetheory Fitness class, and definitely is going to involve talking, talking to someone. And some people have really supportive people around them who totally get it and are non-judgmental, and other people need either additional people to talk to or somebody who can be in their lives and not judge them. And that’s where we’ve stepped in for our clients and that’s where we want to be for you if you find yourself not having a really supportive place.

So, that’s kind of the long and short of it on my end and kind of going through that process. It’s not a five to 10-minute experience, it takes a long time and there’s no right amount of time. So, if you’re feeling like you’re in that place or you might be in that place, we’re here for you and these are some ways that you can be kind to yourself in the process.

Read the full transcript of the webinar here.

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