Its a strange time right now with businesses reopening (very inconsistently) throughout the nation and throughout the world. Our lives have been severely disrupted since the middle of March--or longer. At least 10 weeks. And there is still no real end in sight. The uncertainty about whether we will ever get back to "normal" continues.
And I think its just starting to sink in to everyone just how much we have lost. The massive loss of lives is sobering. The severe illness in so many is very disturbing too.
But the severe restrictions on all of us to stay at home; stop going to school; stop going to work; stop going out to socialize; stop congregating in any locale--having taken a huge tool too. Massive unemployment has resulted, and only some of those who have been laid off have been re-hired. People have not only lost loved ones but they have in many cases lost their livelihoods. Or, in many cases, it is still uncertain whether they will be able to return to their chosen careers. And many, many people are experiencing severe financial insecurity.
In addition to this, people whose lives were in transition--students expecting to celebrate their graduations have had to abruptly leave their schools without having the chance to say goodbye to their teachers and their friends. Everyone's travel plans and music concert plans and attendance at sporting events plans have been cancelled. The things we look forward to have been taken away, one by one.
Some of these things appear to be so small, so insignificant compared to bigger losses being experienced that we may be tempted to discount them as real losses.
But they are most definitely real. And, as with any losses we experience, they need to honored and acknowledged and grieved.
There's a big temptation right now to just gloss over all these "little" losses and pretend we haven't been all that affected by them. But I think that's a mistake. Because if there's one thing I know about grief is that if you won't let yourself feel it, it doesn't just go away. As a wonderful colleague used to say "it'll just come back later and bite you in the butt!"
Sharon Salzberg (www.sharonsalzberg.com), a leading Buddhist practitioner recently said about grief and sadness: invite your sadness in the front door. It won't stay forever. It just needs to be acknowledged. But if you won't let it in, if you barricade your door and refuse to let it in, it will either "sneak down the chimney" and surprise you--you might find yourself crying for no apparent reason.
I was thinking the other day that its like a bomb blew up in all of our lives when the pandemic hit. We're still dazed and disoriented and trying to figure out how to put the pieces back together. And as many places begin to cautiously re-open the question remains; will it all blow up again?
I don't say any of this to spread doom and gloom. I say it to acknowledge just how much we are all coping with emotionally in the present moment. I think what's important to do is to invite your grief and fear into your front door and honor those feelings. Give yourself empathy, compassion and loving kindness. And offer this to others.