During this time of struggling to find any normal, we must welcome our loss and grief.
Ignoring them would be detrimental to our already fragile mental state. We need to maintain open communication with them and let them wash over us like a tsunami as we fight to keep our heads from sinking and ourselves from drowning.
When this pandemic hit, we thought it was for a brief period, and then it set itself down and made itself comfortable. It was here to stay, and we sunk deeper.
Depression set in for many—anxiety for me and lots of other people. We were struggling to handle life without our support system, our loved ones, and our work colleagues, as we were working from home. We went from a connected society to a fragmented one.
The “new normal” is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot. It is a way for us to equalize ourselves during this pandemic. Looking at the pandemic through this lens allows us to feel that we have some sort of control. That we choose to stay in more, to not see our loved ones, to not go to weddings, and so on.
We have all dealt with whatever our new normal is looking like, but we did not choose it—we are just trying to survive a dark time. The pandemic told us where we could go, who we could see, who we could shake hands with (no one), and who we could hug (also no one).
Our life has shifted, and we say we’ve found a new normal, but this pandemic has already set it up (our new way of getting from day to day)—not us.
Mental health has declined for so many. This pandemic has let us hide away in our homes and has kept us from doing our everyday things. Those things, though, sometimes not required, kept us sane and occupied so that we did not notice we suffered from depression or anxiety before all of this.
We could medicate with a trip to a store, hanging out with friends, or going to see our family. Now, we have ourselves to be with—we have our mental health magnified. Some people have been depressed since the beginning of this pandemic. Before that, a lot of others had it, but now, they are forced to deal with it. Hopefully, many have sought therapy to help them break down how they feel and how to handle those feelings.
Death totals are played out on TV and the internet daily. Loss is surrounding us—loss of meeting people, jobs, apartments, ambition, hopes, dreams, homes, friends, community. We feel we are a community of one. Our daily internet time is spent tallying the dead and the people who died alone because no one could come see them. We’re enduring loss of friendships as we are home more without our friends and the loss of freedom as we stay inside instead of having an adventure.
We have an enormous amount of grief and nowhere to place it.
We have been surrounded by grief, loss, sickness, distance, and so much more. We have almost lost our minds and time we treasured doing certain things or being with certain people. We have lost volunteering to help others. We have loss, grief, and this pandemic, so what are we to do?
We need to look for and choose joy. I hear people now saying, “If I would not have had this time, I would not have fixed my relationship with my spouse, I would not have written that book, I would not have walked my neighborhood and found that walking trail.”
Yes, there is what seems to be insurmountable grief and loss right now. But if you look for the people doing good things, to find the individuals leaving food for neighbors on their porches, or people leaving water and snacks for the delivery people, you can find joy among your loss and grief.
There is hope for a brighter tomorrow and for our communities that may not be coming together in person but are showing up for each other in new and inventive ways.
Life is far from what it was, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Perhaps, you had some unhealthy habits before but now do things differently. You shifted during this pandemic and may just come out in a healthy way. I know, for me, walking has helped my anxiety. I tried medicines, but my body rejected them. Walking helps me focus on self-care. I walk trails early when no one is on them. I have gotten healthy during this “new normal,” and for that, I am thankful.
Yes, I have dealt with grief, I have dealt with loss, but now I am spending time working on my art, my photography, and getting my body and mind in a healthy state.
If this pandemic is here to stay, we do not know, but we know how we can get through it, together. If we are here for each other on the phone, or social distancing across a backyard, doing all the precaution things we are told to do, I know collectively that we can make it through.
When we emerge out of all of this, we will have a new community online that holds us, lets us know we are cared about, and perhaps, we will be a stronger and better version of ourselves where we care about others and can be of better benefit to ourselves and those in our communities around us.
May this new year bring you comfort, and may you use that comfort to be of benefit to others.