I think about the losses that so many are experiencing due to this virus. My daughter has to come home from college and take her classes remotely.   Family members, friends, co-workers having to cancel their work conferences, school trips and vacations. The loss of performed rituals at church, hundreds of years old, now suspended due to the threat of contagion.  Cancelled sports and theater programs.  Grocery shopping and finding no bottled water. 

It’s a bit surreal and hard to wrap our heads around.  Intellectually we understand the precautions.  Emotionally we’re reeling from the sudden loss of freedom, or anticipated events, of a way of thinking we’ve come to presume.

Grief expert William Warden calls it the shattering of our assumptive world.  It’s the idea that we operate in a life that we have come to expect.   When the assumptive world turns upside down, we feel confused, unnerved, scared, angry, sad.  It’s difficult to focus, and we have to make new plans to accommodate a new way of living, which can be very difficult.  It’s exhausting.  And it’s difficult to plan when it may need to instantly change. And we don’t want to change.

How do we cope with it all? 

We take some time to grieve this loss.

Warden suggests that there is a four phase process to dealing with grief.

  1. We accept the reality of this spreading pandemic.  We need to accept that it is affecting us globally and there are preventative actions that are essential to implement to keep safe.
  2. We express our feelings.  We may take some time alone to reflect and cry, scream, rant.  We talk to each other, gaining support from a community we trust.  We write, sing, play, paint, draw, dance, move.  We take time to be kind to ourselves, to others, get rest, eat well.
  3. We adjust our lifestyles to a new day to day existence.  We figure out our needs, problem solve, adapt.
  4. We eventually find a way to connect with our past while moving forward with our new reality.  For example, my daughter intends to connect with other college students from her university who live locally and study with them.  On study breaks she will share stories of familiar places and events representative of their college experience.

Everyone will grieve in their own way and in their own time.  We need to recognize and respect the individual experience each of us is having with this circumstance.  Let’s be extra kind with ourselves and others.

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