We Are All Grieving
This post is based on the Kubler-Ross Model of the 5 Stages of Grief.
Our world has changed suddenly. Our former ways of living are no longer available to us. We are a world who is grieving. There is the grief of the loss of our lives as we knew them. And there is the grief some are experiencing with losing loved ones to the virus. It’s important to stay with your grief because the only way through grief is to experience it. The following are the 5 Stages of Grief. You don’t necessarily go through these 5 stages in order. And sometimes you revisit stages along the way. Be present and patient with yourself and know that you aren’t alone.
Denial Denial is a natural reaction to a sudden loss such as what we are experiencing now. It’s difficult for the mind to grasp the enormity of a great loss. Therefore, we deny our new reality. We think, “This virus is in China. It won’t come here.” Or, “My loved one isn’t really gone.” Eventually, our feelings and thoughts catch up with reality and it hits us hard.
Anger Anger is a mandatory part of moving through grief. It make sense to be completely pissed off that you can’t live life the way you were used to living it. So many options are taken away from us. We are stuck at home. When we go out, we have to be physically distant. This is so unfair! When a loved one has passed away, we look up at the sky and yell, “Why him? Why me!”
Bargaining Before a loss, if you have indications that there will be a loss such as seeing and hearing in the news that there is a new virus that may come here, you may go through a state of thinking where you are saying to yourself, “Ok, if I stop traveling overseas, I will be ok.” Or, if I pray really hard, and I am never angry at my wife again, she’ll live.” Then after a loss you think that so long as you don’t go to the gym, you may be able to get away with going to happy hour with your friends because you are all young and healthy. This is normal. Allow yourself patience with this stage. No, it’s not rational and that’s the point of this stage.
Depression This is where reality hits hard. Our awareness focuses directly on our present reality. We are living under a shelter-in-place. The grocery store doesn’t have everything I want because people are hoarding because they are scared too. My life may never get back to where it was. My loved one is really gone. It feels as if this depression will last forever. It’s important to be present to your depression in this stage and yet, it’s important to remember that all feelings and emotional states are temporary. You have likely experienced loss before and you survived. You will survive this too.
Acceptance If we are present to all of the other stages, thoughts, and feelings, we can come to acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean that everything is OK and that we’ve made complete peace with what has happened. It does mean that we have faced the reality of our losses and we’ve accepted them. We accept that a loved one is gone. We accept that our way of life has been completely transformed and may never be the same again. We may never like this reality, and we learn to accept it. Over time, we do come to make peace with what we’ve lost. We never forget what we have lost. We accept and adapt to our new reality.