A note on Covid-19 from Joan Hitchens, Navigating Grief.
Grief, the response to loss, arises with a threat – a fear. In bereavement, the period after a death, it shows up most usually as intense sadness and emptiness. It is profound pain of sorrow, of missing. At death, the threat has been realized in the actual separation from your loved one – your loss of this person, the relationship, a future, and more.
The threat of covid-19 is an anticipated grief, much like a caregiver experiences while tending to their loved one during a foreseeable end-of-life. In anticipated grief, only a prediction for what life will be like can be grieved until the full loss is realized (death) or not (recovery). The invisible virus is also a personal threat to your life which could result in your death, or, in the least, the lifestyle to which you have become familiar. From what I observe, we have already conceded to a “new normal” that is neither normal nor known! Ironically, most bereavement clients resist the whole idea of a new normal for quite some time.
This particular anticipated grief – this huge threat by Covid-19 – is already two-fold in this way: my life may end and my loved one’s life may end. Neither feels acceptable nor fathomable!
But covid -19 is sneaky in its threat. The emotion of grief I find to be most disturbing is that “My existence – by my simply being alive – is a threat to your existence!” As a do no harm to others personality, it is easy to want to hide, to shrink away. As a healer personality, it is easy to want to nurture everyone and be responsible for everyone’s health and existence. In fact, the majority of people and media stories remind us, actually mandates us, to go into hiding, fall into shadow and separate because you can kill others. We simultaneously uphold the heroism of those who nurture us back to health. It is not my moment to say or judge any right or wrong of these messages and the choices for protecting others. I am pointing out the relationship to our hidden fears of impending loss and thus its associated grief. If we can name the fears, we can tame them.
Lately, one of my discerning questions is: what does this grief teach us? This is my arm’s length to the personal response of loss, a space of feelings I can dwell in through the lens of intellectual analysis for Grief in the World. What is the larger healing request around us? What might covid-19 as collective grief share with us?
I am only posing questions for now. I do have several levels of responses, some which surprise me. This is a shake-down of my personal beliefs in its formulation. That’s OK! I think facing our inner truths and beliefs themselves are the healing journey of humanity. I subscribe to the lessons and opportunities of love, hope and connection for the path ahead as the aftermath to all death, grief and loss. Apparently, we have stumbled upon a road we are asked to travel together.
Can you name your biggest fear or grief of covid-19?
#Grief101. #NavigatingGrief. #GriefInTheWorld.