When someone dies, how do we grieve? Over 700,000 people have died of this virus in the U.S. as of this writing — over 4 million worldwide. How do we begin to grieve?
This slice of history will become an era. Maybe we will look back on this era with a fondness for things like that got us through: weighted blankets, Netflix, baking bread. Maybe, but I think it is more likely that we will recall this time in our gut. That is where grief lives.
I am thinking of how we either “act out” or “act in” when we get stressed. Acting out is what we are seeing so much of right now. Loss is not always felt as grief. Sometimes, we feel it as anger. Anger makes us uncomfortable, whether it comes from another or from inside our own gut. We hate to see it — passengers acting out on airplanes, customers at the supermarket, parents at school board meetings. It feels out of control. We feel out of control.
Acting in can feel more accommodating to those around us, but it is just as deadly. Isolation, depression, anxiety. It makes it hard to get up in the morning and function, much less thrive. There were times during this pandemic when I couldn’t write a coherent sentence, my anxiety was so out of control.
Most of us pick one of these camps from which to work out our stuff. And work it out we must. Make no mistake, coronavirus is not going away any time soon. The virus still has lots of room to evolve, and evolve it will. Most likely, the virus is here to stay. Think about that for a moment and sit with it. My gut churns when I think about that.
There will be more sickness and more death. So, when will we grieve and how? We must find a way. Lives lost. Lives altered. Careers ended. Poverty endured. We all have stories of how much our lives have changed.
All of which brings me to my original question. How are we supposed to grieve this loss — this series of losses? They are so many and so profound. We stand on the edge of some worldwide prolonged grief disorder. It will haunt us for years.
Some will act out, some will act in — and those who are lucky will find their way through. When I wake up each day, I know that I will be making it up as I go. Sometimes, my grief is closer to the surface, sometimes I have successfully packed it down deep. It always rises to the surface eventually though.
I like the picture of the flower I chose for this article. I wonder what 4,000,000 of them would look like.
copyright/all rights reserved Audrey Howitt 2021