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Dr. Zlatin Ivanov On How To Grieve During COVID-19

It is never easy losing a friend or loved one regardless of the circumstances. I wish no one would experience this during the pandemic. However, it is a virus and some people’s organisms may not have the ability to withstand the influence of it. I would always recommend to keep the love and good memory […]

It is never easy losing a friend or loved one regardless of the circumstances. I wish no one would experience this during the pandemic. However, it is a virus and some people’s organisms may not have the ability to withstand the influence of it. I would always recommend to keep the love and good memory for the unfortunate ones.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Zlatin Ivanov. Dr. Zlatin Ivanov is a considerate and thorough psychiatrist. He is certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology specializing in addiction psychiatry. He is a member of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Dr. Ivanov specializes in providing mental health services in NYC. In his midtown Manhattan practice he provides warm, welcoming environment so you can feel comfortable sharing your concerns. Dr. Ivanov sees patients for a variety of reasons, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, depression, and addiction treatment including Buprenorphine maintenance.

Thank you for joining us! Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Ihad always wanted to become a doctor, yet from a childhood. I chose to specialize in psychiatry when I was in medical school. In psychiatry there is no standard procedure, and no routine protocol: each patient is unique, and each patient has something unique to return to the psychiatrist. I feel like I make a significant difference in the lives of people with mental health issues, especially that even nowadays mental health is still a stigma to be discussed.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

It is a very difficult question to answer. I am very invested in each and every person’s treatment. Each person’s story is equally intriguing and seeing the progress each person makes is always inspiring and so rewarding. It is the journey we take with each one of my patients with ups and downs. I think, the most inspiring story is the story of the human spirit, the power of the person’s will to overcome all obstacles, inner doubts, insecurities, demons.

Grief is different for everyone. What would you tell someone who is battling grief after they have lost a loved one?

Grief is indeed different for everyone. However, death is part of the circle of life. Missing someone we lost is normal and understandable. But we should try to remind ourselves that life itself goes on, and so should we. We need to hold dear the good memories we had/shared with the person that is gone. They will keep living in our heart and keep the memory of that person alive.

What are some coping mechanisms that someone who is battling grief can do to get through it?

Staying positive (although it might be difficult for some) is a key moment in coping with grief. If we let the pain and sorrow grow, this could lead to other complications, such as depression for example. We need to focus on the positive moments we once shared with the deceased person. By remembering the good and happy moments and cherish the love we have for them, then the memory of them will continue to live inside our hearts and soul.

What are some tips/things loved ones can do after a loved one passes away and they are unable to attend their funeral/wake due to the pandemic we are in?

I would recommend funeral homes equip a video call devices, such as iPads or Tablets, computers or web cameras to make available the option for video funeral. Apparently, in times of isolation it is not recommended to attend events or gatherings with multiple people at one place. Therefore, people can still attend their loved ones funeral or wake from home.

How can people deal with losing a friend or loved one during COV-19?

It is never easy losing a friend or loved one regardless of the circumstances. I wish no one would experience this during the pandemic. However, it is a virus and some people’s organisms may not have the ability to withstand the influence of it. I would always recommend to keep the love and good memory for the unfortunate ones.

Are there resources for people who have lost a loved one and can’t have a funeral for them?

Some resources that could help in these traumatic moments could be books, music. Even some videos on grief and loss could come helpful as well. Sometimes poetry is recommended as a coping. mechanism in grieving moments.

Are there levels of grief, if so what are they?

Yes, there are levels of grieving.

  1. Denial and isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

However, not everyone who is grieving necessarily goes through all or some of them. Or even in the same order. Everyone is coping differently with grief.

How long does grief last? How can people who are grieving deal with it at work?

People deal with grief in many different ways. Therefore, grieving could take different amount of time for different people. Some could last few days or weeks, where others can last for months. Nevertheless, grief should not be underestimated. If you have a loved one grieving for a while (more than a month) you may want to consider consulting them with a mental health representative to help them with their pain.

How can friends and family help in the grieving process?

Expressing sympathy and condolences normally impacts the grieving person in a positive way. Showing your (mental) support is a good sign you care and you won’t let them down in these difficult times. Send them flowers to show respect and express sympathy. Flowers are known to help ease the pain and mentally support the one in sorrow.

What can someone say to someone who has lost someone without seeming insensitive to what they are going through?

Express sympathy and condolences as a beginning. If you also shared memories with the deceased one, tell them a good story or memory you cherish. Hug them and remind them that this is part of life itself. Reassure them you are there for anything they need. Show respect and support. They may not come back to you to ask for it, but knowing you are there for them if they need you, can help them a lot more than you think.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe I cannot change the world from the outside and I can’t change people. I can only change myself and my reactions to the outside world.

I would like to INSPIRE this belief in other people. Change starts within us. I hope, if one person who reads, can take the power this message gives, and starts with one good thing for someone else, then we will have the domino effect. I believe in the good in every person and in the “pay it forward” concept.

When we take responsibility of our own actions, and we direct our own actions towards making good, creating good and being good to the world.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

My website is www.psychiatristnyc.comand we post there all updates.

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