While many of us have foreseen a large-scale epidemic or even a pandemic ever since the first Ebola outbreak, obviously nobody knew when one would hit Earth, which microbe it would be caused by and what effects it would have. So now we find ourselves dealing with a coronavirus spreading everywhere and already the global economy has been affected. My own crisis last year, in which I almost lost my life, has given me some insights into dealing with loss and the following grief that I’d like to share now. Maybe it will be useful to you somehow or perhaps a loved one could benefit from reading my thoughts.
You Can’t Control Your Emotions
Your emotional life is what it is and what I’ve found is there’s no point in denying any of it. All emotions are normal. They also come and go, usually without announcing themselves in any way, but you’re in for a surprise.
The only thing left is to observe yourself, learn to recognise what’s going on, and as gently as possible steer yourself towards acceptance. This way you start realising you are not your emotions but you have them.
You Can’t Control Anyone Else
What you can’t do is control another person, but if they are within your sphere of influence, you can make attempts at having an impact.
When Loved Ones Don’t Listen To Facts
This is a difficult one to digest. Fact is coronavirus behaves in its own way and either we react accordingly by applying social distancing, staying at home as much as possible and assuming anyone, even we, can be infected already. So if they decide not to stay at home and they happen to be adults with their own free will, all you can do is watch. And stay away.
You may feel grief as a result, but there really is nothing you can do, other than keep taking care of yourself. We all deal with situations based on our subjective previous experiences from which follows that no perception of the on-going pandemic will be like ours.
The 5 Or 7 Stages Of Grief
Depending on which source you use, grief has five or seven stages. According to Kübler-Ross they are:
whereas another model includes shock as first stage and testing (seeking realistic solutions) placed between depression and acceptance.
Here’s a helpful article on Psychology Today: “Why the Five Stages of Grief Are Wrong”.
When the Kübler-Ross model first was described, it insinuated the grieving process is linear with one stage following the previous. These days it’s thought that we can jump back and forth between stages, and not necessarily in the sequence originally suggested either.
Also worth remembering is that grief isn’t solely related to the loss of a loved one, but can happen after other types of trauma. Using my own example, I nearly lost my lower left arm and still struggle with wrist and hand function, so in the case of this pandemic, it’s perfectly normal to experience emotions you may previously have felt after someone dying or feel for the first time now. Finally, the grief process can be different each time you go through it.
How Your Mood May Shift
Maybe there are times of the week or day that you feel more vulnerable, less in control or balance? Or perhaps there’s no pattern to it but you swing randomly? How about a period-related hormonal cycle, does it influence, too?
I find the first step to dealing with a new status quo is by returning frequently to self-observation. For me this has been the only way to help me notice a need to feel better and then taking active measures to ease the heaviness or pain if you will. And once I learn what feels helpful, it gets increasingly easy to steer my mind in that direction sooner.
Self-observation also helps me better accept what I feel in a given moment. I can still catch myself judging an emotion and then it becomes about tightening the leash on the ego again. And some days are total crap, despite my best efforts to elevate my mood. It’s normal.
Hang in there. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow as all we have is today. Can you guess why I chose the sunset above the clouds as image for this blog post? It’s said that eagles are the only birds to fly into the sky to sail above a storm whilst it’s going on. Now, there’s no storm pictured on this photo but a lovely view of softness beneath an airplane, yet the sentiment is sort of the same: nature does what it feels like and when, and if we want to tag along for the ride we must do what’s necessary to keep up.
Coronavirus will stop affecting us all as soon as we stop spreading it. Do your part, that’s all anyone can ask from you. How are you feeling? Share in the comments if you like.
Photo credit: Benjamin Behre.