It’s been one full month since my family and I began social distancing. This weekend was Easter, but it felt like any other day we have endured over the last month except there were plastic eggs laying around the house. I kept looking outside as it was snowing. I don’t know what is more strange to me; snow in April or the fact that the whole world is on a ‘pause’ right now.
I look at it the way I would look at grief. We have all lost many privileges of freedom. They range from freedom to go shopping at the grocery store without a mask or anxiety of bumping into someone else while trying to find the last gluten-free pasta that actually tastes good to you and your husband. Some , who stand at the front-lines defending us all and helping save the sick, have lost the freedom to go home or even feel safe. These are two of the most common examples but only two of many more freedoms we have all lost. Many lost a time of celebration. Time to celebrate marriage, babies, and graduation. During grief there are five stages. I feel like I have gone through or have seen them all in the last month.
Denial hit us all before we even knew what we had lost. Once the pandemic was fully acknowledged and action took place, I felt like most of us said, “Ok, let’s just take our livelihood and just put it up on Instagram. That’ll work. And besides, this is just temporary, for a short period of time.” Any work that could be done from home was done. Any class I could do at my local studio was now available on Zoom. All the children were sent home and teachers were directed to give assignments online, while parents were told to help teach them. I even started teaching yoga classes on Instagram live just to help give some normalcy to the situation. Some were so deep in denial and misinformed, they continued on with their family gatherings, parties and even spring break trips.
Soon, anger started to sit in for most. We are angry that there are no sports to watch and teaching our children all day while working is near impossible. We start asking, “How did this even happen?” “How long can we sustain this?” “Whose fault is it?” We began to get angry as we learned more information about the lack of response from our own government that led us to be sitting in this place of unknown and without even a plan to move forward. We’ve become more angry as we hear the stories of misinformation and death. The anger runs deeper as we hear of those who continued to deny the science and people who have paid the price for their denial.
We began to bargain on the circumstances and cling to hope from anyone who said this could be over sooner than later. We thought, “If everyone can just stay home for two weeks, we will flatten the curve and then go back to our lives.” We have talked ourselves in and out of taking this time as “time to improve”. If we could just use this time to our benefit AND save lives, then it would be worth the sacrifice, right?
It didn’t take long for the reality of the circumstances to settle in and for depression to creep in as well. I wonder how can I focus on eating right when I fear not being able to eat at all or running out the basics. I have found myself standing in the middle of an aisle of bare shelves wondering when they will and can be filled again. What’s the point of getting dressed every morning when there is no where I can go? When it’s cold out, I won’t even plan to leave the house. Though I have found some solace in connecting with friends and family over Facetime or Zoom, It becomes difficult to even do that. What is there to talk about sometimes? Day in and day out not much changes.
After facing all of these different stages of loss, we all end up facing acceptance. This is life right now. This is the ‘new normal’. Everyday we have to stay home. We need to wear masks whenever we do leave the house. We are scared to leave. We are worried for our family and friends who are sick or are fighting this virus. We have no control over the circumstances and little we can do about any of it. We are here until further notice.
We have all adjusted our lives for this ‘new normal’ in some way or another. However, this is NOT the ‘new normal’. This isn’t normal at all. It isn’t normal for nurses and doctors to feel like they are “heading into war” every shift. It isn’t normal that we wear masks just to let out dogs out. It isn’t normal that our children aren’t allowed to interact physically or play on a playground. It isn’t normal that our government at the state and national levels aren’t in agreement with a plan to move forward. None of this is normal.
On Twitter I found something that speaks to exactly how I feel about this all.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but all of us need to grieve the life we once knew by shifting into radical acceptance of our present reality. There is no “normal” to return to and if we are honest, the pace of our lives was abnormal. This prolonged social distancing is not normal either, nor is it good for our mental health because we were created for human connection. The toll of our mental health is unquantifiable at this point, but if we underestimate the collective trauma, we do so to our own peril. We won’t be the same. Nothing will be the same. Our lives have changed forever. That warrants grief, lament, and tears. Weeping with you.”
Deepak Chopra once said, “The beginning of suffering is often a refusal to look at the situation as it really is.” That is where I stand right now. I do not want to suffer when I see the world is already full of suffering. When I think about life after Covid-19, I honestly don’t know what to think. I know things will be different but I think it’s too early to even know what exactly will change. I agree that we must radically accept life how it is now so we can better prepare for life after the pandemic. I don’t know if we will shake hands again or stop wearing masks anytime soon, but for now, I am just grieving the life we once had.