In some ways, this Coronavirus epidemic and what it has done to our society and our families may be likened to a death. If nothing else, we certainly have experienced a loss. Perhaps it’s been a loss of a loved one, a loss of community with others, a loss of faith, a loss of our previous lifestyle, a loss of control, or a loss of freedom. It’s unquestionably been a loss of our old lives as we knew them.
If this quarantine has been difficult for you, I want to offer some insight into what’s known as the five stages of loss, which is written about in-depth by the late Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book, “On Grief and Grieving”. Perhaps this can help as you try to process why you are feeling what you are feeling during this unprecedented time in our modern society.
Stage 1: Denial
As a result of the Coronavirus epidemic and/or subsequent social distancing strategies are you feeling overwhelmed? Perhaps you believe this makes no sense or are in a state of shock that this can happen to our culture in this day and age. Denial is a common reaction to death and loss, and it actually helps you to pace your feelings of grief. It signals to you that you can only handle so much, so you begin to deny that the situation is even as significant as some say. But as reality seeps in deeper, you begin to realize you can’t sustain the denial anymore. And feelings of grief and fear may rise or you may move to the next stage of loss.
Stage 2: Anger
It’s okay to admit when you are feeling angry. Perhaps you are cursing the constant news updates and resent the enforced quarantines that are going on. Perhaps you are agitated that the children are home and you are with your family 24/7. And while you love them, this is getting to be more than you bargained for. Maybe you are feeling impatient with others at home and are snapping at one another more frequently now. You may even feel angry at God. Realize that anger on a deeper level is pain. And it’s natural to feel anger, but you want to be careful in your expression of anger toward loved ones.
Stage 3: Bargaining
A lot of times, bargaining sounds like “What if” statements that you may make with God or society, such as “What if I were to stay secluded with my family for 30 days n a row. Then will all of this end?” Perhaps you set up this expectation only to be met with a declaration that we are to continue the quarantine for another month. This may bring you to another level of bargaining. This stage may come and go. You may circle back to anger or denial from here. But this element of thought that has you trying to control a negative situation with some behavior on your part is a natural step as you experience this loss of liberation.
Stage 4: Depression
Sadly, this stage feels as if it will last forever. You may experience that the grief is profound and your feelings are spiraling downward. Maybe you even know of people who have succumbed to this virus, so it was particularly cruel to not be with them. Or perhaps your loss of a job or typical lifestyle is more than you feel you can handle. This deep level of sadness can certainly overwhelm us. But it doesn’t mean you necessarily have a mental illness. It may be situational depression, not clinical, and it is a natural stage of grief and loss.
In this stage, we may withdraw from people, feel sad and down or even angry. But one thing to note is that although it may feel like this will never end, it will. Giving yourself time and practicing some self care will help you through this time. For more info on self care during the coronavirus, click here: https://bewellwithjanel.com/self-care/holistic-self-care-during-a-quarantine/ Please remind yourself that this is a natural way to feel and it will not last forever.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Acceptance means we have come to term with what has happened. It doesn’t mean we are necessarily OK with what happened. It will help you if you resist putting judgement on it. We know it has happened. We may not like it, but we endure it. It may be considered the new normal for us now. We may come to the realization that we have to incorporate new ways of handling old common tasks such as grocery shopping, working, spending money, meeting with friends or exercising. And in time, we do those because we have established a new normal. This is good. We’ve evolved and grown in ways we otherwise may not have.
There has been a sixth stage identified by David Kessler, who worked with Kubler-Ross on her previous books. And the final stage is one I like to focus on since it brings about a positive shift in what was otherwise a negative event.
Stage 6: Finding Meaning
A very helpful way to honor the loss we have experienced is by finding some meaning for it. With every loss comes a birth in some way. With every crisis comes a positive growth. I know this seems impossible and you may want to insist that nothing good came out of this. But I ask you to reconsider.
We are always learning and growing. So what you have learned from this situation? What is better now than it was prior to when this all started? What positive thing happened as a result of this? What are you grateful for now that perhaps you never gave a thought to before this pandemic started? Have you reconnected with anyone? Have you learned a new technology? Have you gotten closer to anyone? What new hobbies have you been doing? What new ideas do you want to start enacting? What creative solutions have you found? What relationships got better during this time?
The bottom line is since there is always meaning behind everything, and there is always a positive outcome in your life when a negative event occurs. It just may take some openness and deep thought on your part to recognize it.
So if you find yourself in one or all of these stages, know that you are not alone. When something unforeseen and unfortunate happens to us, we will likely find ourselves transitioning from one of these stages to the next. Identifying and understanding our troubled feelings can help us realize that it’s a normal and natural progression of grief and loss. And it will ultimately progress for our greater good.
I hope this help you to reflect on your own Covid 19 quarantine experience and feel better about it. Please stay safe and well!
To learn more about grief from David Kessler and find helpful resources, go to https://grief.com/meet-david-kessler/ and to discover informative books by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross here: https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Elisabeth-Kubler-Ross/1684485