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VOICES: Good grief! Just what does that even mean?

Many of us say “good grief!” Without thinking about it. But what does it mean? Dictionaries say: sorrow, heartache, angst, etc. Please tell me … how can that be “good?” Webster says it’s an informal phrase expressing surprise or annoyance. “He’s burned the toast. Good grief! Can’t he do anything right?”

In the light of that last definition, maybe good grief is an apt expression for the way many of us feel about COVID about now. We’re all about over it! Some are cantankerous about having to shaka instead of shake or hug; some are peeved at having to wear a mask, even though it protects us and others; and many are irritated by all the things we’re missing from our (used-to-be?) “normal” lives, like sports, entertainment, hanging with friends, etc.

But many of us are having to endure real, profound GRIEF! Maybe from facing challenges with your health, or from the loss of loved ones, or just an overwhelming inability to cope? If that is you … it is so important that you recognize it, admit it and deal with it! Talk it through with anyone close. It will probably do you both good. Cop to it and give yourself space to go through the 5 stages: shock, anger, denial, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

HELP IS COMING! Congress finally got off its okole and signed a bill to put a tiny band aid on the tragedies that many of us are facing. Yippee!

AND MORE: I always try to offer helpful suggestions and support in this column. And tomorrow (Monday, Dec. 28, 4 to 6 p.m.) on our PAL KKCR radio show, we will have powerful guests who will offer direct help to you and your loved ones! Currently, we have lined up:

Women In Need (WIN) serves men, women and families on Kaua‘i with supportive housing, shelter and counseling services. They also assist households transitioning out of homelessness, persons experiencing domestic violence and women transitioning from incarceration. (808) 245-1966 –

Malama Pono Health Services provides assistance to families and individuals who aren’t working due to Covid-19 through rental, mortgage and utility assistance. They also help with HIV/STI/hepatitis testing, woman’s wellness services (Birth Control, Pap smears, breast exams), transgender services, tobacco cessation, HIV case management, needle exchange and sexual health education. (808) 246-1977 –

Catholic Charities Hawai‘i’s Kaua‘i office provides social services that include housing programs for the homeless, legal aid, basic needs and emergency assistance. (808) 241-4673 –

We have not confirmed, but we also hope to have:

Kauai Economic Opportunity offers emergency and transitional shelter services for individuals and households experiencing homelessness, housing counseling, homeless outreach and assistance with utility payments through the Low-income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). (808) 245-4077

Family Life Center helps those who are financially challenged or experiencing temporary financial difficulties, including emergency food assistance, rental and utility assistance, clothing vouchers, help with home projects for the elderly, budgeting counseling, short-term prescription assistance and emergency housewares assistance. (808) 212-0850.

Grief is actually a sort of self-defense mechanism. We shut down so we can’t feel the pain so acutely. We are usually fairly tough — particularly Kauaians. BUT — if you can’t cope — get help!

But — PLEASE FACE IT — IF you’re really struggling or, if you just cannot handle, please find professional help on Island or online – N o w. Try: or

On the Very Well Mind site, I found a helpful article. Please check out: “Understanding Grief in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic” By Kendra Cherry ( She speaks from vast experience and I have cock-roached a few of her great points here.

For example: If you think you are losing it, you can do a simple self-analysis:

• Having trouble focusing on normal tasks?

• Sleeping much more or less than usual?

• Experiencing feelings of anger and irritability?

• Having headaches and upset stomach?

• Too fatigued or low energy?

• Re-experiencing feelings of past grief?

• Engaging in activities such as eating, drinking or online shopping to cope with anxiety?

• Avoiding thinking or talking about the pandemic?

Grief is often associated with death, but it can follow any type of loss. Some of the causes of grief from the COVID-19 pandemic:

• Job loss or cutbacks causing financial anxiety

• Loss of safety

• Loss of traditions or religious or spiritual support

• Worry about, or loss of close contact or loss of loved ones

• Social distancing, quarantine, and feelings of isolation

• Changes in daily habits and routines

• Special plans and events that have been canceled

• Clashes with family members (maybe over how to protect yourself)

• Worries about how to pay rent, utilities, and other bills

• Sadness over how the pandemic will affect the world

• Fears for the future

Many of us know how you feel. Many of us are feeling the same, to different degrees. Some don’t even know it. Some suggestions for dealing with grief. Try to turn it to “Good grief” !

• Accept that you are grieving. Most of us are. It’s different for all, and each handles it differently. Cop to it. It’s OK.

• Reach out – It is more difficult to process grief alone. Share your doubts with anyone you trust. Texting is quick and efficient but call those you care about and try not to judge or be critical.

• Help others – Whatever you give, you get back ten-fold. Don’t over-do it, take care of yourself.

• Try not to worry – It is fair to “Be concerned” but worry is destructive.

• Eat – Make sure that you are eating, staying hydrated and getting enough rest.

• Kindness – Take it easy on yourself and others. Recognize that there is no normal in the face of a crisis.

• Keep moving – exercise, no matter what. It is crucial for body and mind health.

• Enjoy reading or binge watching … preferably comedies or uplifting drama.

• Write – Write a journal about your covid journey. It’s a healthy way to process grief.

• Meditate – It’s one of the best ways to deal with anything, even grief. Google it to find help. Or just practice breathing slowly, to a count. It’s all in the breath.

Remember: Reach out to a professional if it’s too difficult to keep pedaling. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

So how are YOU thriving during this pandemic? So many are working so hard to try to make sure that everyone has enough to eat and their health is taken care of. Have you stopped to think that — without some miracle — a tsunami of evictions and foreclosures is very likely to be coming soon on Kaua‘i?

We were so happy and impressed to see that the Board of Realtors donated $10,000 to the food banks! We know that the Chamber of Commerce is doing all that it can. And we know many people who are burning the candle at both ends to try to help. THANK YOU ALL.

Food and Shelter … These are our greatest needs. At PAL Kaua‘i (Permanently Affordable Living, a 501c3 nonprofit), we are pulling out all of the stops to help some that people have a place to live. We are working on several projects with local housing partners to provide truly affordable units on the East and South Sides soon. And that is just the beginning. Please recognize the severe need of our neighbors, friends, kupuna and others and step forward to help now.

You can donate your time, talents, treasures or connect us to people you know are able to help us. Please go to or email Larry Graff, our executive director at ( or call 808-738-6706.

Good grief, Charlie Brown!

Hang in there — together we will make it!


THE PAL PAPERS – Seeking Reassuring Answers to Kaua‘i’s Challenging Questions – on the fourth Sunday of each Month. Tune in and call in to the PAL SHOW – 4 to 6 p.m. on KKCR – the fourth Monday of each month. See the list of guests above for TOMORROW!
Source: The Garden Island

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