COVID-19 Grief and Loss

If you are anything like me, a month ago was a different world. Americans knew about the COVID-19 outbreak in China, but maybe there was a little part of yourself that was in denial about its potential impact in America, because we are America, right?

An outbreak of this scale seemed just a little too surreal to be an option. Although, I know a few of you were more prepared than some of us. Either way, COVID-19 has crossed our borders. It is here and Americans across the country are experiencing loss every day.

Life has literally changed on a day by day basis. Americans are experiencing loss of the most basic things, going to the gym, for example, routine, basic human interaction, work, all things none of us could have never imagined losing.

Loss of this magnitude in such a short amount of time is creating an onslaught of anxiety. Every human is feeling knocked of kilter in some way.

The country is embarking on a mass state of reinvention on a macro and micro level, structurally and personally. How do we mentally survive all this change at once?

Adapt quickly and grow.

Facets of the COVID-19 crisis has been compared to the Spanish Flu outbreak and crash of The Great Depression. One thing I notice that is different between then versus now is that our ancestors were accustomed to having to go without, needing to change and adapt to changing environments quickly, whereas the more recent generations have been quite privileged. The crash of 2008 hit us hard, but COVID-19 seems, in comparison, more like a category 7 earthquake leaving the crash of 2008 more like 5.5 on the Richter scale.  

What does all this mean? We haven’t had to adjust our lives because of a major event like this in your lifetime.

You were not born into this type of loss the way your great grandparents were, so you will go through the all enjoyable grief cycle: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. There is one last stage of grief that has been added to the mix by David Kessler; finding meaning. (Book: Finding Meaning: The sixth Stage of Grief)

The stages of grief are not linear, you will experience all the stages from one day to the next in varying degrees.

Let yourself feel. Recognize your pain and loss. Journal, talk to friends, find a good therapist, a strategist if you must in order to help you repackage your skills for the new job market, and find meaning in your newfound situation.

Start by finding a little piece of meaning in each day. Meditate to clear your mind. Rewrite your routines.

Know that moving towards something positive will require you to work through the resistance that has been playing in the background. You are face to face with it now. Now is a time of adjustment and acceptance. If you are lucky, life will go back to normal in a few months, maybe if you are even more lucky, life will settle on an even better, new normal. You must be open to it.