As a result of the Covid-19 virus we are living in unprecedented times. Many of us are experiencing our third week of either self-induced or municipality-induced quarantine. Many of us are working from home. Many of us are struggling to make ends meet due to diminished or reduced income. Many of us are having trouble locating toilet paper and cleaning and sanitizing products. Some of us are sick. Many of us are unable to visit with family and friends. Many of us are experiencing inconvenience and life limitations due to this virus.
I am doing both face to face and teletherapy in which I meet with clients through video communication software. Almost all of my clients are having some trouble as a result of this virus and many are struggling to identify just what they are feeling. We can easily point to boredom, inconvenience, frustration and concern as feelings that we are experiencing as a result of this virus but there is something more that lives behind these obvious feelings. There have been many who are much more proficient writers than myself whom have broached this but I would like to share my take on this as it may have some merit and some may find it helpful in identifying their own feelings.
My contention is that we are feeling many things but that unknown, uneasy feeling is a combination of fear, sadness and grief. We are afraid of what is coming next as each week and often each day brings some new, not so pleasant reality. Will we find the food and supplies which we need when we venture out? Will we encounter some rudeness or curtness as we experience the brunt of the fear and anxiety of another? Will we encounter some new “rule or restriction” which will limit those already limited activities in which we can engage? Will the money last? Will the clients/customers stay or come back? Will we or our loved ones get sick, or worse? Will we lose our jobs or our businesses? Will we lose our minds or just lose it on our loved ones?
It makes us sad to not be able to continue life as normal. We are creatures of habit and are most comfortable in routine, scientists call it homeostasis, meaning the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. At first we may enjoy working from home in our pjs, while being able to do some household chores, take a walk, play with our pets all while working and getting paid. After a while, however, we miss the routine of getting up, getting dressed and going to a familiar place to interact with familiar people, while temporarily leaving home and those we love only to return ready to interact with them. We love our visit to the favorite coffee bar, restaurant or hangout spot where we get that coveted drink, meal and interaction with friends. We miss going to church and to favorite activities in which we interact with our friends and others. We worry about those we love and those we know which are struggling with the result of this virus/quarantine. We miss shaking hands, hugging, holding hands and other personal touch, while not intimate it is certainly a personal need for most of us. It is also saddening to see people in fear and anxiety when we do encounter others out for a walk or for supplies.
We are grieving! We are grieving the loss of freedom, the loss of choice, the loss of interaction with other people, the loss of our normal lives. The stages of grief are very much alive throughout the community and we may find ourselves at very different stages than those of our loved ones and friends. The stages of grief are: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and acceptance. We have never experienced anything like this before and therefore we have no tools to aide us in this process. People who live alone are often experiencing huge amounts of loneliness and extroverts, who are energized by being with people, are struggling as well. My advice is to allow yourself to grieve this time. Recognize where you are in the grief process and journal or talk to someone whom you trust as to what you are feeling. Support is important. Make contact. Now I am not advising you to break the social distancing protocol but utilize the ways in which we can connect with others by telephoning, Skyping, Zooming, texting, Facebook, Instagram, saying hello to your neighbors if you walk by them or strangers at the park or store.
We are social creatures, created for fellowship with God and each other, so fear, sadness and grief are very natural during this time. We were not made for isolation and disconnection. Combat fear with faith, facts and reasoning. This will end and we will see the other side of it and hopefully learn and grow from it. Combat sadness with fun activities, funny shows or movies, music, dancing, interaction with pets or pet videos, getting outside in the sun and take a walk if possible, also exercise, rest and eat well. Combat boredom by taking on some of those tasks which you have been wanting to do when you have some time; now you do. This too will pass but in the meantime, let yourself grieve and work at overcoming fear and sadness. We are all in this together.