It marks a year since we were told to shelter at home to help stop the spread of Covid-19. The world grieved losses big and small. We all felt the collective sadness for the major losses-lives lost, people not being able to be with family members in the hospital, not having permission to hold funerals. And others-the sadness in virtual graduations, proms, and drive-by birthday celebrations, postponed weddings.

A “Thanoversary”is the name given to the anniversary date of the death of a loved one. That day can be very hard on those who mourn, like a fresh wound. The “thanoversary” of the shutdown is also very hard for so many who lost their jobs, their lifestyles, and other traditions and rites of passage. But are we giving them, and all the losses large and small, the attention that they need for us to recover from these losses? Are we ignoring them because we have “pandemic fatigue”or think they don’t begin to compare to the tragic losses experienced by others? I’m here to say that each loss, no matter what it is, matters, and deserves to be mourned.

Take, for example, the losses of the students all over the world of the class of 2020. The cancellation of graduation, Prom, a rite of passage for so many, lack of seeing fellow students every day, was very difficult for this population. The lack of closure left many students confused, angry, uncertain. Losses like these deserve to be acknowledged, and not compared, to the losses of life or environment from disaster or illness. They need to be mourned. They need recovery. Still.

Now, a year later, the Class of 2021.  Many students are still online for school.  No Homecoming games, Winter Formals, Proms or performances, or for some, in person instruction.  Trips abroad are cancelled…again.  But now the message is different.  Now it’s just, “the new normal,” and these young people are just told to adapt, get used to it.  Sorry- it’s the pandemic.  No sympathy- more like, “OK move on now. “And we wonder why they are so angry, depressed, anxious.

They are still suffering.  There are constant reminders of the world pre-pandemic in literature and movies ( or on their Instagram memories) that remind them of this loss.  And they are hoping for a brighter tomorrow but can’t plan for much due to the uncertainty of the times.  Will they be able to live in a college dorm in the fall? Socialize? Perform? Work?  How do you date someone and remain 6 feet apart?

And we are still suffering.  Many of us have losses that are new or are still fresh.  And we should be allowed to grieve the losses, no matter what they are.  I am heartbroken to witness the death toll rise due to Covid.  I’m also heartbroken witnessing my children missing out on travel abroad at school, doing live performances in theater, graduations with beloved friends, parties and dances, college dissertation research in Africa.   They cannot relive this formative time.  They know it. I know it.

What can we do for them?  What can we do for ourselves?

Allow these children to grieve.  Listen to them instead of interrupting with a platitude.  As parents, teachers, caregivers, we want to fix, rescue.  Just witness their pain.  Be there for them. Then we can help them mobilize, take action, adapt. Using baby steps.

Allow yourself time to grieveMourn all of the losses, big and small.  How do you do that?

  1. Express your feelings. Write, cry, sing, dance, move, draw, paint, sculpt, talk, pray.  Not just once.  Over and over.
  2. Get and give support. Grief needs to be witnessed. Accept support when offered, someone to listen, help cook or clean.  When you can, listen to others, help them with projects, go for a walk with them.
  3. Get outside. Observe and take note of leaves moving in the wind, trees, wildlife.  Quite amazing how healing nature can be.
  4. Exercise patience and compassion, with yourself and others. Grief slows down cognition, so give yourself and others extra time to think, do things.
  5. Eat (healthy foods), sleep (more), take a shower (regularly), exercise (at least some, often).

Smile when you can, and celebrate that moment, no matter how brief it is, of joy or satisfaction.  A first sip of coffee in the morning, a beautiful sunset, a joke.

Resilience will lead to new opportunities and new growth. It will introduce us to new resources and build new skills.   In time.  Give it time.

 

Speak Your Mind

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