Column: What we are now experiencing is grief

Opening our eyes by Nan Dickie

We are all now, in the midst of this pandemic, focussed almost full time on keeping ourselves and our families safe and secure.

And so we should. That’s how we’re going to get through this challenging time – together, and separated.

Between shopping carefully, staying in contact with friends and family, keeping abreast of what we must do and not do, and what our government and public health authorities are doing on our behalf at this time, we are, of necessity, living fully in the present moment.

Of course, we look to the future with hope. It won’t be the future that we had surmised a couple of months ago, yet we look towards it with revised and no doubt tentative plans.

We are nervous. We are worried. But we are more than that. We are each experiencing individual grief. Not only that, communities, nations and the globe are all grieving now.

We may still be going through the first stage of grief, that of shock. The reality of the pandemic left us feeling numb, perhaps even paralyzed for a while, and certainly overwhelmed.

We couldn’t spend much time in the denial stage of grief, as we were forced suddenly to adapt and adjust our lives to keeping ourselves and others safe.

Read more: Column: Making the most of this new normal

Read more: Column: If there ever was a time…

The next stage of grieving is anger, and there is not much to be gained by engaging in this emotion at this time. There is no one to be angry at, other than those who spread baseless fears, and those who do not take necessary precautions.

There is also no point in trying to bargain, the next stage of grieving, during this phase of the pandemic. Many people will find it necessary to apply for government financial assistance. We won’t be able to quibble about the amount we receive. In this global plight, there’s not much at all we can bargain for.

The next stage of grief is depression. We may or may not have reached this stage yet as we are totally involved in putting one foot in front of the other on a daily basis. Certainly we are now experiencing depression’s close cousin, anxiety.

What can we do about our grief? Firstly, we need to accept we are experiencing it, as unsavoury as that may seem. If we don’t, we are only fooling ourselves. Secondly, we need to let go of what we cannot control, and take control of what we can and must. And thirdly, we need to have compassion for others and ourselves. If we do these things, the heavy weight of this time will lessen, if only slightly.

Isn’t that something to aim for?

Nan Dickie is a local author, speaker and former facilitator of a depression support group in Salmon Arm.

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