The details of this pandemic and the implications it has on our lives is continually evolving. This week we should start to hear from colleges what they’ve decided to do for the fall. I’m sure elementary, middle, and high schools will be shortly behind there. Some folks just found out last week that they’re kids aren’t going to camp. Maybe you’ve recently heard that someone you know has gotten COVID, or died. It’s like the hits just keep on coming and that means we’re having to continually deal with new and different shades of dealing with grief.
Listen To The Podcast Here
Because that’s really what’s at the crux of so much of the news regarding the pandemic—loss. Loss of income, loss of life, loss of childcare. Loss of a way of life, loss of a feeling of control. It’s hard. And the tricky thing about grief is that it’s a slippery little devil. You may not recognize it for what it is. And if you don’t, it may be making you feel like there’s something wrong with you for not being able to motor on as if everything’s normal.
Here’s an example of how grief might work
I had a very dear high school friend. He was the closest thing I had to a brother growing up. And one day he had a massive heart attack and died. He was, I think, all of 43. I went to his funeral. It was wonderful to be around people who knew him and loved him too. We could talk about him and laugh about the many many funny stories about him. But there was this one moment, before the funeral happened, when I was trying to just do my daily life. And grief did a sneak attack on me.
It was when I was dropping my son off at daycare. He was 2 years old then. And something about the sweet way he held my hand on the way to the door of the daycare just slayed me. And as soon as he was inside I turned back to the car and started sobbing. Just at that moment the very lovely woman who worked at the daycare was heading inside and she saw me. She asked if I was ok. I managed to squeak out that my friend died. And she asked if I needed a hug.
I said that yes I did and we had this very non-awkward, wonderful hug in the daycare parking lot next to the big green van where they piled all the kids in every day to take them to a different playground. And that’s kind of how grief acts. It can pour itself all over you like someone boobytrapped a door with a bucket of water and all you did was open the door and then the next thing you know you’re dripping wet.
Grief Presents Itself In Many Different Forms
It can also show up as a lot of different things, not just big salty tears or big sadness. Anne Lamott wrote an amazing essay about grief a million years ago when she was a columnist for Salon.com, it’s called Diving Into the Wreckage, I highly recommend it, I read it about once a year. And she wrote:
“Grief, as someone wrote, is a lazy Susan. One day it is heavy and underwater, and the next day it spins and then stops at loud and rageful, and the next it is wounded keening, and the next day numbness, silence.” So if you’re feeling something now that you don’t recognize or understand why you’re feeling that way, chalk it up to grief, which is an appropriate response to loss. There is nothing wrong with you.
The Beautiful Tenderness of Life
I know it doesn’t feel that way. I know that dealing with grief with its variability can make you feel like there is definitely something off in your wiring. But that’s just it’s nature. It’s also one of the great things about, because it cycles you through so many emotions it’s kind of like a whole-house decluttering, if you allow yourself to feel it. It wrings you out. It leaves you feeling lighter, like you had an emotional poop. And it always, always leaves a gift by the door on its way out. I can’t say when that gift will arrive, or what it will be, but it will be something that makes you feel more whole than perhaps you ever have, if you’re willing to really go there.
Grief can break your heart wide open, but the good news about that is that it makes it so much easier to really connect with other people and feel the beautiful tenderness of life
If you can accept that you’re processing loss, you can also share it with someone else, and accept the comforting gesture they make to you. I know it’s hard when we’re not hugging many people right now. And I know it may or may not be as profound a loss as losing a friend too young.
Feel What You Are Feeling
Whether it’s a little grief or a big grief, just be ok with the fact that it is here. Let it have its way with you. Tell someone you feel sad. Or tell your journal. Or both.
We are all dealing with grief about something we’ve lost to some extent right now, and because of that it’s even easier for us to be able to go there with each other. So don’t be afraid to share with someone you trust—or even someone who just happens to be there, like the woman who worked in my son’s daycare happened to be in that parking lot—that you’re sad.
Geez, this got deep, huh? Maybe you’re just miffed that camp is canceled. I don’t mean to tell you how to feel. I’m just saying, if at any point during this pandemic journey you’re confused about the way you feel, ask yourself if this could be you dealing with grief. You’re entitled to it, after all.
Calm The Eff Down
If you need help quieting your nervous system in the midst of all that’s happening, I pulled all the tips from my 21 Day Calm the Eff Down Challenge (that I ran at the end of April beginning of May here on the podcast) into a pretty mini e-book that can be yours for FREE.