Last year, right around the time I lost my dad, I read an article that basically said the following “everyone around you is grieving – go easy”. Today, as we start to process the ramifications of a new reality—one in which the world has to figure out how to live with rolling waves of COVID-19 infections—that has never been more true. Everybody is grieving. We have all lost the life we took for granted. We just might not know it yet.
There is a well-known framing of loss and bereavement called the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. (Recently, a sixth stage – meaning – was added). It’s clear that our government, and many of its supporters, has spent all of this crisis in denial. Certainly there is a huge amount of anger… and without reflecting on all these steps, suffice to say, we are a long way from acceptance.
I heard someone on the radio the other day describe our current state as ‘suspended animation’ and I think that’s a perfect description of where we are at right now. One day – in my case, it was March 10th – life was getting a bit weird, but it was basically the same, and the next, life as we knew it ceased overnight.
- No more school
- No more leaving the house unless it was crucial to sustaining our lives
- No more in-person work meetings
- No more horse shows, clinics
- No more going to the movies
- No more eating out at restaurants
- No more inviting friends over for a spontaneous dinner
- No more graduations
- No more birthday parties
- No more sleepovers
- No more inviting anyone inside your home
- No more beauty or hair treatments
- No more live music
- No more doing yoga with your mat 2 inches from the next yogi
- No more group exercise classes IRL
- No more hugs unless you live with the person you’re hugging
- No more childcare
- No more work (for 33 million people as of today, and counting)
- No more traveling anywhere… and especially around the world
- No more planning to see my mum’s new house in England this summer
- No more planning to see my dad’s siblings and my sis in Hong Kong this year
- No more gathering to mourn our dead
- This list could go on, and on, and on…
I don’t know about you, but my brain simply couldn’t process all this in the first few days, weeks, and probably month(s). I’m not sure it can even now. When I stop for one second to try and take it all in, I just feel a huge amount of loss. Of grief. Of bereavement. A loss of freedom and the loss of feeling somewhat carefree. Unlike some, I don’t feel the need to take up arms and rail against those who are trying to keep us safe. But I do feel the need to try and keep on keeping on. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. I meditate to inoculate myself the best I can.
We embrace the new normal, because what else are we to do? And because that is what makes us human. We have the creativity and inventiveness to do our best to make the most of the hand we have been dealt. So we live a different way…
- “Live” exercise and yoga classes with our favorite trainers while we are in our own homes
- 8-10 hours a day of Zoom meetings for work
- Zoom gatherings for birthday parties, happy hour, and memorials
- Restaurants have become our pantries, food pick-up is the new treat
- Husbands are dyeing their wives’ hair
- Wives are cutting their husbands’ hair
- Babies are being born (thankfully this hasn’t changed)
- Animals still need vet care, we just can’t go inside with them
- We wear PPE wherever we go
- We know what the acronym PPE stands for
- We know what it’s like to live through a shortage of toilet paper
- We have all learned to cook again
- There is no yeast left in the country because so much bread is being baked
- Drive-by graduations and birthday parties are a thing
- Fashion companies have quickly pivoted to making masks
- This list could go on, and on and on…
I do believe that in the end, we will find meaning in all this, but with so much devastation affecting so many, it’s going to take a while. For now, we should let the grief in. We need to recognize it and let it move through us. Everybody’s grieving. And this time it’s true. Go easy.
Kimberly F Miller says
Lovely and true.
A very thoughtful reflection on this very unfamiliar world we live in. I’m sorry you can’t see your family. Virtual hugs!
Thank you Callie! x