We Are Grieving The Life That We Imagined We Would Live in 2020
We are a month into self-isolation, and just coming off Easter weekend, where we would have been spending it with our families. For most of us, unless that family is living in your home, we were feeling a little unsettled this weekend not being able to be with our loved ones. I know I was. All weekend I felt like I should be somewhere. Which, of course, if it were life as “usual” I would have been.
I received so many messages over the weekend from people saying they felt their anxiety and stress was higher than ever. Mine was as well. I was slightly short-tempered, felt like I couldn’t relax, wanted to do something, but also nothing. What I know for absolute sure is that this is so completely normal.
Our mind, body, heart and soul is feeling everything so intensely. Some days are the most amazing days. You might have so much motivation, lots of inspiration and feel really good. And other days, especially during a holiday weekend, you might feel unmotivated, uninspired and really sad.
We are grieving the life we once had. We are grieving our freedom. We are grieving the goals we can’t work towards right now. We are grieving the 2020 we imagined living. We are grieving being able to host dinner parties, and go to the store without worrying about our health and safety.
So what do we do? We allow ourselves to grieve. We allow ourselves to go through the seven steps of the grief process.
I wanted to share the sevens steps with you today because there is something really powerful when we can claim what we are feeling, instead of it claiming us. This is how we are able to move through the stages with more ease. Not by bypassing our feelings, but in the awareness of what we are feeling. My hope is that knowing what each stage might feel like for you, the awareness will guide you through it.
A month ago we were all in shock and denial. We couldn’t believe what was happening all around the world. We were all so shocked that we were being told to stay home and having to close the doors to our businesses. “No, this won’t happen to us. We will be back to normal in a week.”
Some of you may have passed that stage and moved on to pain and guilt. Feeling so incredibly sad, maybe even afraid, but also guilty for being sad and afraid because you have so much to be grateful for. You might even be feeling guilty for your joy as well. “Can I be happy while this is happening?” The answer is yes. You might be feeling guilty for all the things you took for granted that you wish you hadn’t now that you know what you know. In this stage, it is important to understand that you don’t have to choose pain or joy. You can feel both. You can feel the sadness for what has been lost, and the gratitude for what you still have. You don’t have to choose.
You might be at the stage where you are realizing all that has been put on hold, and the true magnitude of what is happening. In this stage you may be feeling depression, reflection and loneliness. When you are in this stage, reach out and set up phone or Zoom dates with your friends and family. Set some sort of routine that works for you. Up your self-care game. It is also when you might be ready to reflect on what you want and need today. The four questions I started asking myself when I hit this stage were: What do I need mentally today? What do I need emotionally today? What do I need physically today? What do I need spiritually today? I do this every morning, write down the first thing I feel, and that is what I give myself throughout the day.
Stage four is one that I feel a few times a week and it is anger. I still have angry days and fill my journal with a lot of F bombs. It is okay to be angry at COVID-19. Tell it off. Say, “F you COVID!” Let it out. Write it out. Run it out. Talk it out. Curse it out. Even scream it into a pillow. Take the anger from your body and let it out in any way that feels like a release to you.
Stage five is the upward turn. This is an up and down stage right now because we haven’t gotten through the crisis yet. This is where many of us have landed. It is in this stage where you are adjusting to a new temporary normal. When we are in the upward turn we feel motivated, our mind is clear, we don’t feel the depression or loneliness as strongly. When you are in this phase, ride the upward wave. Riding this wave when you are feeling it will help you get through the times when you are not.
Stage six is also where many of us are and that is the reconstruction and working through phase. When you are in this phase your mind is clear and you are a master problem solver. You are figuring out how to manage the new “normal” at work and at home. You are out of reaction mode and into planning mode. I love the days when I’m in this phase. I feel like there is no problem I can’t handle. Bring it on universe!
Stage seven is a beautiful phase where we know that everything is going to be okay. We feel so deeply that we are ALL in this together and have a deep knowingness that you will come out of this stronger, wiser and more connected than you ever have been. This is the stage of acceptance and hope. You accept that this is your current reality, but you know that the day will come when you will go back to work. You know that the day will come when you are hosting dinner parties again and travelling, and hugging your family and friends. You know with all your heart that you will never forget what this experience took from you and all that it is also giving you.
It is in this stage that you know that even with all the shock, all the anger, pain and guilt, all the loneliness and depression, you were just experiencing what every human being has been experiencing…BEING HUMAN and having perfectly human, although sometimes annoying, unwanted emotions. When you are in this stage, you are feeling all that you need to feel, going through all the stages so that you can get right here, feeling hopeful, feeling grateful, having a heart so full of compassion and love that all the other emotions are in the past.
You might feel all these stages in one day, and some will take more time to work through depending on what your experience is. Awareness is key. Awareness becomes your guide. Awareness takes away the confusion and frustration of questioning why you are feeling what you are feeling. You feel it, it matters. Baby step your way up the emotional scale by doing little things each day that makes you feel better. Don’t focus on point A to point B, it won’t always be a straight line. Instead, focus on that one thing you can do today for yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Sometimes one thing combats all of them. Do what you can, when you can and give yourself massive amounts of grace.
When and if you need support, I’m here for you. I will be offering free coaching to anyone who needs it until this crisis is over. You can message me anytime to schedule a Zoom or phone call.
XO Sending you all so much love XO