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Why It’s OK to Grieve This Pandemic

We are experiencing collective anxiety at this point in time so it is important to understand that it’s OK to grieve this pandemic

I have been feeling a little off lately. I feel tired most of the time though I can’t even remember doing much physical job. I wonder if it’s because our city’s placed under the strictest lockdown classification for the third time, but now due to the COVID-19 Delta variant. But I’m sure I felt too weak and sleepy.

Perhaps it is not just some kind of physical exhaustion. It’s beyond that.

Pandemic Woes

Earlier this year, I posted a blog similar to what I’m discussing now. However, this time the toll seemed kind of heavier. Is this grief due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Because of limited movements? Is it because of uncertainties at work and the looming recession? I don’t know. One thing’s for certain – we are undergoing collective anxiety or collective grief. I know I am not the only one experiencing this.

For the past two years since the virus outbreak, we’ve let go of too many people without the chance of actually saying goodbye. Relationships ended. Friends and family members died. Plans failed. Jobs lost. People grieve. The worst thing about this pandemic is its open-endedness. When will this end? We’re robbed of the normalcy of life and we’re not sure when are we going to fully embrace this “new normal”.

One thing’s for certain – we are undergoing collective anxiety or collective grief. Click To Tweet

I had a discussion with a friend about COVID. She told me that it is not “real”, implying that it’s just a fabricated issue, a ploy of the authorities for their selfish gain. While part of me agrees that yes, to some extent there are social and political, even financial maneuvering to make the most of the situation, but for the sake of my friends and loved ones who suffered, and some even died because of COVID, I cannot just dismiss it to a simple cough and flu. It is real, and so are its effects. Can’t we be sensitive enough for people who grieve?

Five Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in her book “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss”, referenced five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though we may not particularly experience these in a linear timeline, these serve as tools to help us frame and identify what we are going through.

I’d like to borrow an illustration from the Harvard Business Review article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” by Scott Berinato.

Denial: “This virus won’t affect us”.
Anger: “You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities”.
Bargaining: “Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right?”
Sadness: “I don’t know when this will end”.
Acceptance: “This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed”

While the power lies in acceptance, the process of “getting there” is equally important. Grief is almost always unwelcome, but it makes us grounded. It makes us whole and capable of understanding others. It makes us human. Challenges and sufferings are crucibles that purify us from the inside, and grief is a part of the purifying process. Cliché it may sound but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. If we know how to process our emotions, we’ll end up better with a wider and meaningful perspective of things.  

Just Grieve

It’s OK to grieve. Don’t hold back the tears. Weep and wail if necessary. It’s OK to not be OK. You’re doing yourself a favor if you acknowledge that you’re not at your best. May these five stages of grief, especially this pandemic, help you navigate your emotions.

It's OK to grieve. Don't hold back the tears. Weep and wail if necessary. It's OK to not be OK. You're doing yourself a favor if you acknowledge that you're not at your best. Click To Tweet

So yes, admittedly I am getting anxious. A year and a half after the community quarantine was first implemented, I still don’t know what I am even afraid of. I get tired emotionally to the point that I get tired physically as well. Virtual meetings are a great alternative but it gets too taxing even. I miss normalcy, but normal as I know it seems elusive as of now.

But soon, I know we’ll get through this.

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