Changes are occurring all around us, unimaginable changes. With the abundance of freedom we have in this country, the feeling of loss will be overwhelming. The sense of loss of everyday activities, social events, the how we busy ourselves is slowly progressing.
For some, the pace has been going like a wheel spinning faster and faster. It was only a matter of time before it began to move too quickly and whip us off like a Ferris wheel out of control. The ability to grind to a halt will be abrupt and something that will leave us in disbelief of our circumstances.
We will sit stunned. We will be in shock. We will deny the events we are thrust into. It may be the first time we collectively go through the grief cycle together.
Yes, the first step of the cycle of grief is shock and denial. The concept was developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 through her work as a psychiatrist working with the terminally ill. So, we might as well get prepared mentally for what is to follow because human nature follows a pattern just like many things in life do. If we recognize the path back to our new normal, we can assist ourselves and others in moving forward to gain acceptance and renewed hope.
So what is next, you may ask? Pain and guilt will follow. The pain will consist of the loss of your freedom, loss of interaction with others, a loss that is sudden and unexpected. Some may lose the end of their senior year in high school, some have trained a lifetime to compete in the Olympics that may not arrive, and some may lose a parent, a sibling, a friend. The loss will be different for each but will cause collective grief for many. You may feel the guilt of not doing your daily tasks, even if your daily obligations are now being suspended due circumstances out of your control.
The pain will lead to anger, irritation, annoyances, all of which are normal and are a part of the next step in the progression. You may wonder how in the world this could be happening. The anger may be directed inward to yourself for not preparing or outward to those that do not understand the impact this has on your life. All lives will be impacted in some way, and we will try to bargain for ways to control that anger.
Each step will not necessarily be an internal feeling but possibly prompted by external queues. They will grow. The amount of news may become unbearable. You may have difficulty sleeping and awake with a mind racing with thoughts. Your energy will begin to deplete from lack of sleep, movement, and routine. You will enter the next stage, the stage of depression fueled for some by the anxiety of the unknown.
For many, this will be the first time they will have experienced this. It will feel like an overwhelming sadness with a touch of anxiousness, with your life feeling entirely out of your control. You will try to do something, anything to gain control of your surroundings. Some may hoard what they think they need, some may eat, some may not eat, some may exercise, some may binge Netflix, and some may sleep their days away where others might clean their house from top to bottom. The behavior will be obsessive in nature and perhaps appear to be in control. This may be a sign that you are desperately attempting to gain control over something much more significant than you.
The activity, or lack thereof, will be greeted one day with an upward turn. The depression, anxiety, and lack of control will dissipate some. You will begin to feel more like yourself as you will find renewed purpose in your existence. You will be entering the upward turn. You will rise again to be able to reconstruct the pieces of your life and work through how to move forward in your new normal. You will gain acceptance and hope for the future. You will have made it through the next stage of grief. You may fall back through the steps, but if you are patient with yourself, you will make it to the other side.
As the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus wisely said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” This change, too, will pass. The collective cocoon we are entering will give us the time to look inward, if we chose to, and develop deep from within. Each one of us can shift our thought and help those around us in need. If you are in need, this is the time to raise your hand and let others know because they may be looking for ways to assist, giving them a sense of purpose.
Some have slowed or stopped. Some are still wandering aimlessly in a daze of denial. Soon will come a time to determine how and in which direction you will move forward. Be patient. Recognize the phases you will pass through. Move through each stage, knowing that acceptance is a way to see that there may be more good days than bad, but there may still be bad — and that’s OK.