"I don’t know about you but this is my first f****** global pandemic". -Brené Brown
I was looking for a podcast this morning and stumbled on Brené Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us. For those of you who don’t know, I am a bit of a fan or her work. Okay, I’m totally obsessed with it! Her above statement perfectly captures what we are all dealing with and the inherent complexities of living through this time. I wrote the below blog post all about the grief process as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic. I hope you all enjoy it as it is a bit more open and vulnerable than my usual (which is great that I found a perfect Brené Brown quote to go with it considering she is my go to champion of vulnerability even when you don't want to.
As I have been working with my clients, consulting with my family, friends, and colleagues, and checking in with my own emotions, I have recognized that the process of adjusting to our new normal as we try to #flattenthecurve and engage in social distancing reminds me so much of a grief process.
As a therapist, I am familiar with grief and how it pops up in our lives during times that do not necessarily include death. Grief is involved in any sort of ending, new beginning, phase of life, and even happy days. For example, when you become a parent you are overjoyed at the gift of the precious baby you now have but you might also feel overwhelmed with grief for the life you used to know.
As I have sat with my own emotions and explored those of others during this unprecedented time in our world, there has definitely been a process of grief and loss. I remember just a week or two ago, which feels like MONTHS ago, feeling like everything was happening so quickly and everyone seemed so anxious and I felt like it was not even happening. I now recognize my feeling that this might be an overreaction both as a product of my own misinformation and lack of understanding of the situation we were in but also as a process of denial. I honestly have been working so hard in my life on so many of my goals, that I didn’t want any of this to be real. Particularly as a business owner, this situation was enough to make anyone want to hide with a blanket over their heads.
The next wave of emotions was definitely some level of resentment. I honestly resented the people around me, even my husband whose judgment I trust, for telling me life as we knew it was over and would be for a longer time than any of us are prepared to sit with. Taking my son out of daycare and moving my therapy practice online have been changes that it truly took a lot of time to process.
I found that I personally needed to allow myself some space to just be sad and to grieve all of the things I feel like we are losing…. My son’s experience with his trusted and beloved daycare providers, our upcoming vacation, all of my client’s progress and consistency in sessions and in therapy, my own progress in building our business, and our freedom to do what we enjoy doing – which is generally not staying home. I also felt like I needed some time to readjust from “building and improving” my life and my business to “survival mode.”
Simultaneously, I have recognized my privilege in this situation. I work in a business that can use video and telehealth for sessions and our business will continue. It will continue differently but we are able to cope with this. So many businesses and people are not and I feel that sense of injustice in our world keenly. I have also been so grateful for my family situation and feeling so well supported by my colleagues, family, and friends. Never have I cherished our new home and backyard more than I do these days with a toddler to entertain! Never have I been so grateful for all that I have in the world.
I found that my path to acceptance of our situation came from allowing myself time to just feel all of these things. To feel overwhelmed, sad, and to truly grieve everything that is happening. The loss of life, people’s livelihoods, and our ability to move through our world freely. I needed to let myself just feel these things and my feelings about them.
During this time, I tried not to think too rationally about how I do believe that we can figure these things out. I just let the feelings come and embraced them willingly. I let myself cry freely and think all of my biggest fears and just let my awareness sit on the fact that we don’t know how long this will last.
I repeat, our futures are not known and we honestly can’t do much in terms of planning. While some may find this freeing, many of us are going to find this anxiety provoking. To go from working towards goals and planning events to just getting through the week is going to be a challenge and struggle for many. It certainly has been for me.
While I truly believe in our ability to come back from this both as individuals and as a society, that is truly so scary to not know so many things about what that process might look or be like. I feel like many of us are even bargaining in this grief process. I’ve said it myself, and heard many others say things like, “I can do this for 2 weeks but no longer.”
Guys, we need to sit with the truth in this situation to allow ourselves to come to a place of coping. The more we fight reality, the more we are also delaying our own acceptance and coping. The world as we knew it is changing and it is now up to us to accept this, figure out a new normal, and allow ourselves to recognize that we don’t know anything about what the future will hold. This is a wave that could crush us if we are not careful. We could get lost in the unknown and fear. I encourage you to know this and choose to dip your toes in the pool of your emotions but to then also let yourself allow some light in.
Other than days when the grief wave just takes hold of me, I am going to be mindful of my thoughts and choose to believe that we will get through this and that our resilience as a people will be a powerful force in light of this pandemic. I truly believe that our struggles can bring about change and growth and am hopeful that this might not be different even now.
If you or your loved ones are struggling to cope, our office is still offering telehealth (video) therapy sessions throughout California. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you feel we can be supportive during this time. Our therapists have availability and can offer flexible schedules even for those who are working from home while trying to learn how to homeschool your kids.
From the bottom of my heart, I hope all of our readers are hanging in there and adjusting during this time. We will continue to post resources and tips for our readers to help us all cope with the days ahead!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy via video sessions, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
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Watch your words,
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Watch your actions,
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Watch your habits,
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