Damn, the last few days have been like a tsunami for most of us!
There is so much fear-worry-anger, many words of wisdom, and funny graphics (TP) flying around all the TV, internet, and social media platforms regarding Covid-19’s invasion into our lives. We humans seem to spew all forms of emotions when struck with significant change that is viewed as unwelcome. This is what happens when we begin the grieving process dealing with any loss or change, so strap in and get ready for the onslaught.
I will add my voice to it all, and act not as a lecturer but as a reminder of all the wisdom and common sense we all know, deep down in our hearts and spirits, is ever-present, awaiting our access.
I am remembering that abrupt change, like hearing about a sudden death, an unexpected job termination, a loved one suddenly leaving you, comes with a fairly predictable pattern we humans follow. We all have just been handed to us a series of changes that have come unexpectedly, all at once, without our involvement or approval. This has significantly impacted our work, economic , and social streams of living. Just watch the news and see how many people are in shock, denial, fear, anger, panic and more. The run on toilet-paper and floods to the grocery and gun stores reveal our acting out in predictable ways to new things thrust upon us.
I want to share or remind you of some wisdom that may help put all of this in perspective. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., in her groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), outlined the phases of grieving including the emotional and spiritual processing experienced when one learns that they are dying. Her five stages have since been aptly used to describe the process of grieving most any loss or significant change, including that of perceived lifestyles.
I share these five stages with you so you can see where you or others around you might fall. I have found that when I find myself in times of turmoil, I remember the “grieving process curve.” I become more conscious of what’s going on and allow my higher states of wisdom to help me get through what I am experiencing more effectively and healthy.
Take a read and see where you are, have been, and then see what’s ahead for you. Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grieving are:
- Shock & Denial
In this phase, our heart and emotions—rather than our head—rules our belief system as we try to adjust to the idea of life without the person or lifestyle we’re losing. Even though we know what was is over, we really don’t believe it. Against the better judgment of everyone around us we can’t help but entertain the fantasy of returning to our former life. We keep wanting to see hidden glimmers of hope, yet are faced with clear indications that it’s over. (Unsurprisingly, this is the phase where we are most susceptible to late night texting and social media outbursts).
Anger, coupled around fear-worry-doubt, can manifest in many different ways—anger at your ex (“How could they do this to me? Why can’t they stop being selfish?”), anger at God or the Universe (“Why can’t anything ever work out for me? Why am I cursed?”), anger at people or situations associated with the change or break-up (“Anger at the boss or anger that your partner lost their job, because that is when things changed”), and anger at other people who don’t agree or stand with your anger.
This is the phase where we think it’s a great idea to tell anyone and everyone how crazy/unreasonable our ex-boss-government was. This is also when we think it’s crucial to send out hateful emails-texts-social media posts because we don’t know how to contain our emotions.
Bargaining often goes hand in hand with denial. Bargaining can be looking for any possible way to make the old ways work through negotiation, threats, wishing, dreaming or magic—for example, telling your ex that you will change, move, go to therapy. Reminding them of the hurt caused to the children, family, and dog by leaving. Many people bargain with “The Powers That Be,” promising to be a better person if only we can go back to our old way of being.
Depression, like anger, also surfaces in many different forms in people. Feeling tired all the time, not wanting to do anything but lay in bed, feeling disconnected from people even when you’re with them, being on the verge of tears most of the time. Your mind is constantly full of fearful and worrisome thoughts, you have sleep issues, or seek changes in appetite and drug or alcohol use. The most significant and consistent is hopelessness. Hopelessness is the most pervasive and debilitating; it is the thing that leads us to believe that nothing will ever be or feel different than it is right now. Hopelessness makes it feel like you will never move on and that nothing will ever work out for you in the future.
Finally, this is the phase in which we accept what has happened allowing us to make peace with the loss. It doesn’t always come on suddenly, it often happens gradually interspersed with some of the other phases. Acceptance doesn’t always involve harmony and ease —there is almost certain to be some lingering sadness. Acceptance entails making peace with the loss, letting go of the relationship or what was and slowly moving forward with your life. Sometimes it feels like this phase will never come which usually means you’re still struggling in an earlier phase.
I hope this sheds some light on your current emotional condition and that of others. Maybe this will help you lighten your load, go easier on yourself and others, and just allow all this to pass without unnecessary pain and suffering. If you find this of benefit share it with others in your sphere of influence. Lean on others and share what’s going on inside you, and be there to listen to them as they share their plight with you. In this way we can all be there, more present and compassionate for each other which I believe will be the greatest gift of this huge, but temporary challenge.