Emerging from the Grief Stages of the Coronavirus Pandemic

What a time that we are living in? It is unprecedented. It is scary. It is black hole of unknown. Our daily lives have been uprooted and filled with massive cancellations. We are frightened of the virus and its ramifications. What will happen? What lies ahead?

I have acknowledged the virus – yes, it is ugly and destructive – but TODAY I am moving on from it. I am emerging.

Looking at the past week, I realized that my family and I (along with others) have been going through the full stages of grief. I  hadn’t realized it; I was too busy dealing with it—‘it’ being the virus and the grief it imposed. There was no road map or user’s manual to tell us what we should be feeling or how we were to deal.

Our grief started with DENIAL. The reality of the virus, at first, seemed too far-fetched. Surely, it would not result in the cancellation of events, schools being closed, sports seasons terminated, or restaurants halting (just a sampling of the virus’ effects).

And surely, it didn’t mean that the virus would infect the number of people that it has.

The first day that we told our sons they could no longer hang out with their friends, they hated us. It was the same day my oldest learned that his school (two hours away) would be remote for the remaining year, his lacrosse season was over (the reason he decided to go there), and he would not be able to say goodbye to his roommate and best friend who is from Germany and only at the school for one year.

stages

GRIEF. My heart broke for him. It broke for my youngest who felt that I was being totally unreasonable.

That was when ANGER took flight. Per my sons, we were apparently the only parents enforcing the rule of isolation. Neighborhood kids roamed in packs around our house. My boys could not understand why their crazy mom was being so stern and – well – paranoid. Emotions ran hot that day. There was screaming and lots of “I hate you”(s).

I was angry too.  So angry.  Angry that I was being put in the position of having to be “the bad guy” while others made me feel as if I was being over-the-top.  For weeks (even two days before), I would read people’s Facebook posts calling the virus a ‘hoax’ and how the flu is more deadly.  I wanted to scream to them, “Take this seriously. This is NOT some political attack on the President (the world is bigger than him); this is real people.”

I was angry at our country’s lack of preparedness and at the President’s blatant denial. I was angry that we didn’t get a head of the curve.

Anger can be destructive though. I can easily allow myself to get stuck here – in anger – but I won’t.  I will be constructive instead.

But what about FEAR? This stage can go hand in hand with DEPRESSION, both feeding off of each other.  There is fear of the unknown – the economy – our livelihoods – the impact on everyone’s lives. Valid concerns.

Having spent most of February not feeling well—an infection in my tooth causing flu-like symptoms and then bronchitis—I became fearful that my past illness was the actual virus and, perhaps, I had infected others. The thought caused me (one, who fights anxiety) pure panic. Thankfully, I have worked through this.

It is important that we all work through our fear and not let it control our thoughts, which is the purpose of this posting.

Mental health experts say that we must allow ourselves time to grieve. I believe that to be true.

This week, I was grieving. My family was grieving . . . we just didn’t realize it.
We were just trying to deal. . . like everyone else.

We should not feel guilty about it, nor should we beat ourselves (or each other) up.

Instead, we must acknowledge our grief.  And then, we must SEND IT ON ITS WAY.

Emerging through the grief stages of the coronavirus

Because it is important that we come through on the other side. We must face this new norm with a determined resolve and our deep faith that we will prevail.

Yes, we are being, and will continue to be, challenged. But rather than focus on the uncertainty and fear, we must focus on this time to unite, reinvent, bond with our family members, take hold of our inner strength, meditate, pray, and see just how tough we can be.

How about you? Where is your head these days?

Will you join me?

RIGHT NOW and in GOING FORWARD, let’s take it ONE DAY AT A TIME.

I found that in looking ahead, I allowed my mind to imagine and fixate on dooming outcomes.

I am not saying to put your head in the sand. What I am saying is to take part in constructive activities that will take your mind off your worries. Worrying is not the same as prudency, planning, and careful deliberation. Worrying does no good. It is not constructive; it is wasteful.

Start your day WITH A PLAN, then PEACEFUL MEDITATION, and UNPLUG. No more news and social media. Spending our time obsessing over the negativity is not helping us right now. It will only deplete our energy.

Instead, spend the day spring cleaning, taking a walk with your family, reading a good book, whipping up dinner, or baking with your family.

START NOW.

This too shall pass.

Anytime those fearful thoughts come into your brain, replace them with something constructive and positive. SHUT DOWN negative thoughts immediately.

Focus on TODAY and what you will make of it.

We can do this.

TODAY we will emerge and prevail.

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