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THIS EMOTION IS GRIEF

It’s week 2 of our self-isolation due to the Coronavirus. Yesterday, we had a few emotional breakdowns in our house. Perhaps we thought we could keep it at bay. We had added some structure. We’ve done our best to maximize the fun factor: movies, eating great, baking, board games, extra Nintendo Switch time. We’ve been exercising. In fact, most mornings we’ve even worked on morning gratitude journals and meditation.


Nonetheless, Thursday night we hit a wall. It started as lethargy and grumpiness. A snappy comment. A few arguments. Then the tears came. Myself included.


David Kessler is “the foremost expert on grief.” This Harvard Business Review interview, That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief, offers insight specifically on the emotions we’re feeling due to the many impacts of this period in history. Even if we haven’t yet been directly impacted by illness, the change we’re experiencing as a world is dramatic and unprecedented in our lifetime: economic, freedom, and health. On a micro-level, each individual has been impacted: school, work, friendships, daily rhythms.


Kessler highlights that it’s important to feel our emotions, rather than powering through: “One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse.” It’s appropriate and necessary to experience the stages of grief.

Specifically, “The five stages of grief … are not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world."

  1. There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us.

  2. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities.

  3. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right?

  4. There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally,

  5. There’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.”

While we may not always experience them sequentially, we will feel empowered and arrive at the ultimate goal: acceptance or better yet, meaning.


Last night, our family took the time to acknowledge what we were sad about missing — and even what we were not sad about missing (e.g., making school lunches!). We sat awhile with our sadness. In the end, we felt better and connected.


I will continue taking the steps that reflect “acceptance” — knowing (or accepting) that I may not be able to live there permanently. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on compassion, self-care, and supporting others. We are together on this journey and we will garner a greater community as a result.

Stay focused,

Lisa

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