Moving Through the Stages of Grief
The impact of the Corona-virus is creating losses in all parts of life. Loss of health, life (in many cases), and freedom-of-mobility are front and center, while the financials losses are catastrophic and uncertain. We are experiencing a collective loss of normalcy.
Our hearts break for the loss of so many valuable experiences, such as high school proms, vacations, weddings, family events, and sporting championships that will never be played. For some the losses are even more severe. If you are like most people, you are doing your best to keep your head up, be positive, and kind.
In the face of an uncertain future, grief abounds. It is extremely important to not minimize the grief you are all feeling.
When Donna was a nursing student many years ago at the University of Missouri, she had the privilege of attending a lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who is commonly credited with identifying stages of grief. These stages help describe the range of emotions we all go through when facing loss.
These stages are:
- Denial or shock. In this stage, you resist the facts of the situation, saying the situation just can’t be that bad.
- Anger begins when the denial won’t hold the reality and you look for who or what to blame for such disruption.
- Bargaining asks for something in exchange. “If I/we just do social distancing for two weeks, then the situation will be solved, right?” This negotiating stage is motivated by the hope of gaining control.
- Depression or grief begins when you permit the truth of the situation to sink in. Withdrawal, sadness and being unusually quiet are common behaviors.
- Acceptance is the stage when you say, “Okay, this is how it is. I’m ready to stop fighting, learn what I need to learn and I choose how to respond.”
The first three stages of denial, anger, and bargaining are all problem-focused, anxiety based, and rooted in the Victim (or Problem) orientation. In these stages, we are reacting to our anxiety and how we feel about the problem of COVID-19.
As we validate and accept our grief, a gateway to acceptance can begin to open. When you name it you give it a better chance to move through you. Grief is a threshold emotion that, if faced, will open you up to a whole new range of positive experiences and feelings like joy and gratitude, even during so much loss.
It is in the acceptance stage that the Outcome Orientation becomes an option. Not until we reach acceptance are we able to choose our response to the current reality. From this mindset, we begin to focus on how to be during this unprecedented time.
Going through the stages of grief is not a linear experience. For the most part, we (David and Donna) have shifted into acceptance by understanding the facts of the situation and agreeing to follow the requirements put forward by those who are leading the recovery. Other times we both feel the denial, anger, and deep grief for all the loss.
The “good news” is that this collective grief has heightened the option of connecting to others in a deeper and more personal way. We need to connect with each other to share the stages of grief we are experiencing AND to leverage acceptance in order to co-create how we can individually and collectively, move forward.
Whatever stage you are in now, know that you will probably go back and forth multiple times as this pandemic unfolds. Each time, allow your feelings to rise and flow, validating, and accepting.
If you allow yourself to ride the waves of grief and loss, you will find yourself closer to the shore of acceptance. Your Creator essence will grow stronger and deeper, guiding you toward empowered choices, even during times of our collective grief.
Note: While writing this, we became aware of this timely article: That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief