Our Pandemic Grief (...our weary hearts)
One Year Ago...
Last September (2020), I wrote a blog post about the losses we were experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When I drafted that article, I didn't expect to write a similar reminder just one year later. Yet, here we are…amid an ever-raging pandemic...feeling tremendous grief and mourning the cumulative losses we have acquired over the past 18 months.
My dear readers, our hearts are weary. Our spirits are fatigued. Our grief feels heavy.
Loss has become a common thread in our stories.
Our Pandemic Losses and Collective Grief
In many ways, humanity seems more divided than ever. Yet, I'm beginning to wonder if our experiences of loss have actually connected us more than we realize. The pandemic has lasted longer than we imagined, and no one has been exempt from its resulting grief.
We've endured significant illness, mourned the deaths of family members, friends, and patients, experienced unemployment and financial instability, suffered isolation and loneliness, grieved without funerals or memorials, ended relationships, experienced changes in our mental health, persevered through educational disruptions, postponed life events and celebrations, experienced social and racial injustices, endured natural disasters, and much more.
We haven't just experienced one loss- which alone would be hard enough to process. Instead, we've sustained multiple losses, and our hearts are beginning to feel the repercussions.
The undercurrent of sadness, anxiety, stress, and fear we are carrying is grief. Our exhaustion, disappointment, loneliness, and confusion are symptoms of grief. We might be unusually sensitive to change, easily annoyed, or even short-tempered. Many among us are finding it increasingly hard to make decisions about the "right" thing to do, and everything feels more complicated than it did in the "before times." These are all familiar grief reactions.
Most of us, at some point over the past 18 months, have wondered if we are handling our grief "correctly." But, how can we expect ourselves (or others) to know exactly how to process the emotional side effects of a pandemic when no one within our lifetime has ever before experienced this?
My dear readers, here's the deal...
It's okay to be weary.
It's okay to not be your "best self" right now.
It's okay to feel...
sadness and sorrow,
stress and fatigue,
apathy, regret, and anger,
frustration that we are still here...in the middle of a pandemic...18 months later.
It's okay to feel all of these (and more) emotions at the same time...on the same day...in the same hour.
IT'S OKAY...TO NOT BE OKAY.
Grief and Love
Our reactions of grief are normal, HUMAN responses to life…and love….and loss.
Instead of ignoring or masking the emotions we feel, I wonder what would happen if we dared to acknowledge our collective losses and support one other in our collective grief?
Today, let us courageously move in this direction by extending compassion and grace to ourselves and others. May we remember that our grief is a result of our humanity, borne out of great love and great loss. As our weary hearts continue to press forward, let us remind ourselves and others...
We are living amid a global pandemic.
The losses we are experiencing are real.
The grief we are experiencing is human.
This is shared.
I am not alone.
You are not alone.
We are not alone.