I took this photo out my office window this morning and it seemed to sum up how I feel most days… these days. Not being able to see too far ahead. We now know there is a Phase 1 and a Phase 2 and a Phase 3 to opening the country back up but we don’t really know when either phase starts. And also, if it doesn’t go well, states will have to stay in Phase 1 until they can progress to Phase 2. Nothing is definite during this time.
This is new territory for everyone. A worldwide pandemic. One that has us feeling anxious, disconnected, unsafe, isolated.
What is not necessarily new are those feelings. The ones I just described. To anyone who has experienced grief… you know, this is what it feels like. And if you are a person that has not yet felt the cloud of grief enter your world… this is it.
As I started to recognize this all too familiar feeling, I began to pay extra attention to my friends that I know have experienced grief first hand. I began to pay extra attention to the authors and writers whom specialize in grief.
They too began saying the same things.
This pandemic. This feeling. This is grief.
One of the articles I read seemed to say the things I wanted to say to you. And since it is already written… I’d rather just give them credit.
These excerpts are from an article titled “That Discomfort You Are Feeling Is Grief” written by Scott Berinato about his interview with grief specialist, David Kessler.
People are feeling any number of things right now. Is it right to call some of what they’re feeling grief? Kessler: Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.
What can individuals do to manage all this grief? Understanding the stages of grief is a start. But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world. There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed. Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance. I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn how to work virtually.
Whether you are grieving the loss of a job, the loss of a normal pregnancy, the loss of connection with your friends, the loss of your wedding date, the loss of a dream, the loss of your health or a family members health… whatever it is, it is ok to grieve that.
To recognize it as what it is. And work on treating it that way.
Be patient with yourself. Be kind. Let yourself feel the feelings. Let yourself be sad. Cry if you need to. But don’t get stuck in it.
In the thick of grieving the loss of my dad. Some days were good and some days were bad. Really bad. The thing I learned was to take each day, each moment, as it came. Feel it. But don’t get stuck in it. When the tears stopped flowing, get up and move forward. When the wave of insecurity, disbelief, fear of the unknown came crashing on me again… feel it. Acknowledge it. Be ok with it and then again… move forward.
If you are having trouble during this time, I’d encourage you to do some reading on grief. Talk to a counselor or therapist over the phone… those people are still working! Talk to a friend, your pastor, your small group leader. Do some things that will make you feel good… take a warm bath, garden, do some yoga, pray, read.
You, we, all of us… are experiencing something major. You are not alone.
Love you friends… Melissa