Last night I had a good cry. This week I’ve lost 3 friends in 4 days to Covid-19. These were people I knew, worked with, was social with and deeply cared about. This invisible enemy keeps striking, and it’s too much to bear. Every day the news comes at us like a loaded gun, rat, tat tatting away, taking shot after shot until we simply can’t take any more.
People are sick and some, dying. Worse, they’re dying alone. No one at their bedside, holding their hand. There are no funerals, no wakes or sitting shiva. We can’t say goodbye to those we love. For some the pain might be too much to bear. No closure and long term trauma will surely have an impact.
Despite the plethora of motivational messages making the rounds on social media meant to give us a tough love kick into gear, this isn’t the time to start a new business, learn a new skill or gain more knowledge. No, it’s not. This is a time to take a beat. To slow down. To feel our feelings. Sure, we all likely have more time on our hands, and the idea of using this time to be more productive sure is appealing, but in keeping busy, we are missing another opportunity.
Here’s what I mean.
These are painful days. The likelihood is we will know someone who had Covid-19 and survived or worse, did not. I don’t think any of us get out of this pandemic unscathed. If we don’t honor the emotions we feel now, we will surely have to unpack them later. There will be trauma, grief, loss, panic over finances and panic of the tsunami of change happening all around us. And there doesn’t appear to be anything we can do to alter this outcome except to stay home.
The fact is, there is a deadly pandemic happening. It’s global, affecting people in more than 180 countries. There’s also vast economic uncertainty. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been hit hard by both of these truths. Some, harder than others, but we have all been impacted. It’s crucial to remember that what we are experiencing isn’t just happening to you or me. It’s collective and it’s happening to all of us. We are doing out best to survive, but we are anxious, scared and full of doubt about what the future may hold.
I fear the long term mental health ramifications of Covid-19 will be far worse than the virus itself. So no, we don’t need to be bombarded by motivational messages or guilt that we somehow aren’t cut out for this. Who is? What we need now more than ever is to be more compassionate, more gentle, with ourselves and others and accept the difficult emotions that will, no doubt, come up for us. Give yourself time—time to feel and time to heal. Time to reflect and time to plan. Yes, read a book or take an online class if that helps pass the time. But please don’t shame anyone if this isn’t their path. You see, this isn’t about discipline or time. It’s about the unexpected trauma—the preverbal train we didn’t see coming. I am not suggesting we all crawl into a ball while we wait for this unpredictable and unexpected storm to pass.
However, it’s important to know, this too shall pass.
We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times.
We will come out of this.
I suspect very changed.
I pray for the better.
So if you’re finding it difficult to focus, to pull yourself away from the news, it’s ok. You are not alone. And it’s completely understandable. Our new normal is anything but. The unknown is always challenging, but especially in these ambiguous times. We have never experienced anything like this. We have never seen days like these and as I’ve said before, may we never see them again.