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February 25, 2021

Reflections on Living through a Pandemic: Grieving a World we Once Knew.

Pandemic—a word we never knew, or had only heard of in movies.

Catastrophic events such as these are usually once in a lifetime.

We’ve heard stories from our elders and read about wars and civil unrest in our history books, and about how it has changed their world. Never did anyone think this would occur. This pandemic is on a global scale, every single person is affected by this in some form or another.

Besides the obvious long-lasting effects, there is an underlying grief that isn’t discussed. We have been quarantining and social distancing for almost a year. Humans are social beings; we need connection. Zoom calls are quickly getting old. When is the last time we hugged our family and loved ones? Some people may never have that chance again and some haven’t this whole time.

What comes of that? Gut-wrenching grief and not just from not seeing people and being social, but because we are grieving a world we may never get back. A shift from a world that was carefree to a world one, now smothered with ever-changing rules.

Masks have been implemented, and we can no longer see someone smile as we walk down the street. A smile that is masked behind a mask. We take for granted the small nuances of life and how quickly they hold meaning when we no longer have an option to act as we once did.

There is a ton to be grateful for but we can’t dismiss what is going on and what we’re feeling. The essential workers who have been tirelessly working this whole time, the people who have been working remotely, to the employees who are remote and parent their kids through school, the ones who lost their jobs and have struggled to find work—the feeling of dread and uncertainty of if this will ever end continues. I think it’s safe to say, exhausted is an understatement.

How can we navigate mental health in something we’ve never experienced before? I wish I knew the answer, but I don’t. What I can say is we need to acknowledge what we’re feeling. Speak openly about what is going on so those around us can feel and know, we’re not alone.

As we’re coming up on a second round of birthdays, anniversaries, and much more, there’s a weird feeling of again?

We never thought we’d be here almost a year later—but we are. And it’s okay to talk about and acknowledge the grief, disappointment, and mental exhaustion.

It’s okay to miss your family and friends. 

It’s okay to miss being social. 

It’s okay to miss going out to bars and having a drink. 

It’s okay to miss physically going to work and hanging out with your coworkers. 

It’s okay to feel exhausted. 

It’s okay that you’re only doing the best you can. 

It’s okay to feel sad about cancelling events.

This is not to make you feel sh*tty; this is to bring awareness to something we may all be feeling, and it can be hard to describe when we’re in the midst of it.

Grief is strange; there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. This pandemic has been traumatic and how one reacts varies. We collectively and globally have experienced something together that will be one of the most historic events in human history.

Life is uncertain and we know that more now. We can feel sad, exhausted, and all the rest, while simultaneously feeling grateful for what we do have. We are capable of feeling two feelings at once, even if they contradict each other.

It’s okay to feel scared of what this “new” world will be like.

It’s okay to worry if things will ever get back to “normal.”

No one knows when this will “end” but we can’t control that. We can only control how we react to what we feel on the inside.

Some days, it will be easier said than done to be positive, and other days it will be easy. Throw away the judgment of trying to be ultra-positive all the time; it’s physically impossible. There’s a balance that comes with struggle and gratitude, they go hand in hand.

Grieve as you need; do all the self-care in the world. Seek support or a therapist if you can.

Take things one step at a time—because sometimes that’s all you can do.

~

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