Here in Alberta, April 15 represents exactly one month to the day that school closures were included in the emergency management measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. The day schools closed became a “TSN Turning Point” in most Albertans’ Covid experience. Not just because it impacted millions of students and employees of the education system, but because it was a large scale effort to close a fundamental system of order and life. School closures essentially forced us to admit, ‘$hit just got real’, just in case you weren’t already there!
March 15th wasn’t the start of this tragedy but it became an equalizer of sorts, because it became the day that COVID-19 now impacted even our innocent children. I’ve spent a great deal of time this past month thinking about how COVID-19 was changing our way of life and our future. There are so many opportunities in this season to create and focus on new habits and ways of life that can be exciting! There is one thing I want to specifically talk about so you it doesn’t catch you off guard- GRIEF!
The Grief Recovery Institute defines grief as “the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind.” Did you realize you were experiencing GRIEF? You don’t have to have only experienced the death of someone to say that you are impacted by GRIEF! Many are calling our life pre-Covid-19, as the ‘old normal’ and reminding us that there will be a ‘new normal’. Let’s be honest here, there isn’t a single person on this planet who can adequately or respectfully articulate the depth of this GRIEF and the impact it will have on your new norm world. Let me show you what I mean.
Below is a list of losses or changes that may have happened to you because of Covid-19. Please count how many of the below items you have experienced so far and add up your score;
- I have closed my business
- I have closed my business permanently
- I fear that I will be forced to close my business
- I have lost my job temporarily
- I have lost my job/position permanently
- I have fear of losing my job/position
- I have a spouse/partner that lost a job/position
- My children lost their school year (one per child)
- My children miss their friends
- I miss my friends
- I miss my family
- I have Covid-19
- I have been tested for Covid-19
- I have recovered from Covid-19
- I have a friend or family member with Covid-19
- I have a friend or family member who recovered from Covid-19
- I have lost a friend or family member from Covid-19
- I am deemed “Essential Worker” and I fear going to work
- I am a front line Health Care Worker and I deal with Covid-19 everyday
- I am a front line Health Care Worker and I am fearful everyday
- I am a front line Health Care Worker and I have lost a patient to Covid-19
- I am in debt and Covid-19 is making things worse
- My finances were strong before Covid-19 but I am concerned about my finances going forward
- My current financial situation is good but I am concerned about my investments
- My current financial situation is good but I am concerned about my investments or retirement income
- I fear for my elderly parents who are in a seniors residence
- I fear for my elderly grandparents who are in seniors residence
- I am concerned that my child who has pre existing medical issues will get Covid-19
- I am alone in isolation
- My relationship is falling apart while in isolation
- I haven’t had alone time since this all began
- I know/love someone who passed from unrelated issues and Covid-19 has prevented us from seeing them
- I know/love someone who passed from unrelated issues and Covid-19 has prevented us from grieving them properly
- I am fearful of going out and to get my needed items
- I have not been able to attend/receive mental health/spiritual support since Covid-19 started
- I don’t qualify for financial supports of any type
- I don’t have local support to help me and I need to stay in isolation because I am part of a vulnerable population
- I have been in extreme isolation because I work in Health Care and I don’t want my family to be exposed so I haven’t seen my family
- I work from home now
- I school my children from home now (one per child)
I acknowledge this is not a complete list of things you could have lost or could have changed since Covid-19 started. This list is ‘off the top of my head’ and came together in less than 5 minutes. Do you have your score? Are you ready to hear what the score means?
(insert patronizing tone) “Compared to my score your score means… “
NOTHING! That’s my point! Not insignificant nothing, but trivial NOTHING!
GRIEF is not a competition and you shouldn’t keep score!
Your GRIEF score doesn’t make you more significant, important, worthy, or a bigger martyr than the rest of us. Your GRIEF score doesn’t elevate you above others.
My attempts to bring you down to earth come with a very specific purpose.
We are ALL grieving!
We are ALL experiencing “the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind.”
Experiencing just one item on the above list could feel like the end of the world for you. One item could negatively impact your mental health, or make you feel overwhelmed. One item on the list could drastically alter your life. My fictitious score of 20 compared to your fictitious score of ONE doesn’t mean my GRIEF is bigger than yours. So how do we go through our own little world of GRIEF and not dismiss others in the process?
Remember that you are not alone in GRIEF. Remember that when you show empathy instead of “one upism” you have the opportunity to connect with another person. You don’t need to have a solution to their GRIEF or diminish your own GRIEF to make them feel better. Acknowledge and share your pain but make room for theirs too. Show up and lean in. Show up and be vulnerable with your own GRIEF without making yours more important than theirs. Never has a generation experienced a better opportunity to connect and be there for each other. Show up and listen well! Ultimately don’t be afraid to seek or recommend professional help if you just can’t get a handle on the GRIEF.
The entire planet is in the same boat. The water is the same temperature for all of us. We are all concerned that we could drown. Some of us don’t have life jackets and may need others to keep them afloat, but if we link our arms and keep each other afloat, the weight of the GRIEF won’t take us down. We can make it through this together.