Coronavirus: The five emotional stages of lockdown grief you might be going through right now

man crying on the couch
It's okay not to feel okay. Photo credit: Getty.

An Australian psychologist has revealed that the turbulent emotions many of us are going through during the COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown are similar to those of losing a loved one. 

A new focus has been placed on Kiwis' mental health in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led all but essential businesses temporarily closing and daily routine to alter drastically.

The Government announced on Tuesday the launch of the new 'Getting Through Together' initiative, which aims to provide mental health support to people during the crisis.

Speaking to the Daily Mail Australia, Anne Marie Collins - President of the Australian Association of Psychologists - says many people will be going through "five emotional stages" during the lockdown. 

Dr Collins says losing control over our lives and futures can cause us to feel many overwhelming emotions. 

If you're thinking this sounds a hell of a lot like grief, you'd be right. Dr Collins says there are similarities, as our emotions are connected to a sense of loss. 

But it's not all bad, as it means we're hopefully moving towards a place of acceptance, then hope and optimism. 

The five stages of lockdown grief: 


The first emotion we experience is often disbelief that this is actually happening.

"Coronavirus has triggered a sudden loss of structure and a loss of social contact for people all over the world, who are now trying to create a new routine for themselves working from home, or perhaps not working at all," says Dr Collins. 


Just as we feel anger when grieving the death of a loved one, it is normal to feel angry about the loss of normality and sudden upheaval foisted on us by the coronavirus crisis.

"Blame causes us to get rooted in our anger, which prevents us from letting go and moving on to the next stage," says Dr Collins.


Many of us will be feeling sadness and other negative emotions during this time, which can strike at any stage in our lockdown journey.

"Sadness and crying are normal reactions to shock and change. We have tears for healthy reasons... they serve a purpose and they usually pass very quickly," says Dr Collins.


After the anger fades, it's time to accept reality and start fostering new routines to give us a sense of ad purpose.

"We reach a point where this is our new reality and we accept it, whether it's working from home, homeschooling our kids, settling into the aftermath of job loss or seeking support from the Government," says Dr Collins.

Hope and optimism

What we're all working towards! This is the final and most beneficial stage.

"This hopeful, optimistic state is where we're able to be more creative about how to make this situation work for us - the constructive, productive part of our brain is open for business again," says Dr Collins. 

Where to find help and support:

  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat
  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)