Our Collective Grief-The World is Changing.
Life is changing for Calvin and friends. Sketch: Schoenhofer
Life was different when I was young. I was a free-range kid. In the morning, when I took off on my bike, my mother would remind me to be back for dinner at 5:00PM. I remember practicing hiding under my desk as protection from nuclear fallout at school. I remember getting polio shots too. The world is different now.
The world changed after the attacks on 9/11. Today, no one would think about going to an airport without going through security. TSA is a part of our lives.
School life changed after the shootings and deaths that occurred all over the country. School Resource Officers, metal detectors, and active shooter trainings are frequent and even mandatory.
I remember when I was 6'3" and weighed 180 pounds, and my hair was still brown. But I won't go into that change here. Life is different.
I wonder how our lives will change because of this virus?
Some days I don’t do as well as others because of the grief I experience. I don’t know what is ahead, and I feel out of control. I am scared that people I know and love will die because of this virus.
It’s About Grief
The best thing I can do at the moment is to name my feelings of grief and loss. Then I can become more open to supporting my loved ones who are also experiencing feelings of loss.
The world’s foremost authority on grief, David Kessler, shares his thoughts on the stages of grief in his article, That Discomfort I'm Feeling is Grief.
All of us are responding to this situation differently.
Denial / Disbelief—This can’t be happening. This virus might just be like a terrible cold and won’t affect us very much.
Anger / Outrage and Blaming. This is ridiculous. Staying at home will wreck our economy. I cancelled all my travel plans and activities.
Bargaining / It's all just temporary, right? Will we get back to the way it was before? Maybe after two weeks of social distancing, everything will be all right.
Sadness / Feeling helpless, hopeless. When will this end? Will it ever end?
Acceptance / Exploring options. This is a new reality. I have to figure out how to proceed from here. This is what I need to do to save lives.
According to Kessler, it is in the stage of Acceptance, where my power lies. I can find some control here. I wash my hands. I wear a face mask to the store. I keep a social distance. I work from home. The first step is to recognize and name that what I am experiencing is grief. Am I still in denial? Anger? Or have I moved to sadness? Acceptance?
Emotions Need Motion
If I name it and feel it, then the feeling can move through me. The work now is to name and accept what I experience in this moment and let it move through me. Otherwise, I will get stuck—what I resist, persists. We want to run away, look for someone to blame, pretend it isn’t that bad, hide our fears and anger and sadness. None of that is helpful. What is crucial is to Look—Name—Let it go. Then we are not victims.
The world is changing. Life will be different. But it’s not all bad.