Grief is an interesting dynamic that can change on a weekly, daily or even hourly basis more now than ever. The pandemic way of life is creating an inherent threat that your mind can’t pinpoint. The unknown source of discomfort that affects your body chemistry and the way you process your emotions. The biggest realisation that you can have is awareness, understanding that this isn’t normal, accepting your emotions will help to release them. Give yourself space to acknowledge how you feel and your body, your hormones and your nervous system will relax and you will begin the process of recovery.
You may not be aware that you are in the grief cycle. You perhaps can’t imagine that the loss of your way of life is even a grief issue but you will have noticed the different emotions that you have experienced. Stages that you have been through during lockdown. Perhaps you started with denial or apathy to the situation, a sense of things not feeling real, perhaps your tiredness levels increased, outbursts of tears, maybe at times anger at others for not following the rules or personal frustration to the lockdown experience. The circumstances you are in is personal and individual to you and your response is equally individual – perhaps you are concerned about how to look after ageing parents, trying to homeschool, furloughed and concerned about redundancy, worried about the virus?
Scrambling to make sense of this experience is what your subconscious is doing on a continual basis and you may not even be aware of this background process but you will be aware of your resulting emotions.
Over the last few months, I have watched my own emotions change dramatically to the political landscape with interest. I’ve investigated with curiosity my reaction to lockdown, the curtailment of my live events, Mindful Pilates and wellbeing retreats abruptly put into question. I noticed my despair, my concerns and my anxiety around trying to protect my family – close and extended.
The manner in which I have moved in and out of various emotions have varied, but the cycle is the same. Initially “This isn’t happening, this can’t be happening,” is a normal reaction to rationalise any overwhelming emotions.
Every time I experienced the grief cycle. The loss of something valuable to me. The loss of my freedom, livelihood, social interactions, even my health.
You do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic loss, missing the connection with your friends and family. This is hitting everyone and we are grieving collectively. The world is not used to this kind of collective grief in the air. It is impacting everyone on a personal and communal level, but at different times and in various ways.
Do you recognise yourself in one or all of these 5 stages of grief and loss?
1. Denial and a feeling of isolation
Another part of this grief cycle is anticipatory grief. That feeling of concern over what your future holds. The uncertainty and the imagined and possible futures.
Your emotions feel that there is a storm coming, it feels like there’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing. Your primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks your sense of safety. You’re feeling that loss of safety. The world has never experienced this before in a communal way.
With lockdown and the inherent threat to our safety, you also have time. For those unable to carry on a normal day, there is time to reflect, issues that have remained dormant and too busy to consider are being put in the limelight. You have space now to consider emotions that have been pushed down for a long time, sometimes years. That makes this situation even more intense and difficult to handle. When the world throws up a painful event of what is so wrong in the world, your response may be difficult to navigate.
This week the murder of a vulnerable black man who cried out for his mother as he was killed in a manner that shocked the world. I’ve watched myself this week repress my emotions, ‘don’t go there’ ‘it’s across the pond’ ‘that wouldn’t happen here’ I have been in denial, shock and repression. I couldn’t even bear to think about what happened to create the circumstances that led to George Floyd’s death in such a horrific way. And then reading reports by the advocacy group Mapping Police Violence found that 99 per cent of police killings from 2013 to 2019 in the US did not result in officers even being charged with a crime.
In an online discussion this week with fellow virtual businessmen and women – black, white, Asian, across the pond and in the UK we discussed at length the online business response to this tragedy. Which online business celebrity got it right and who got it wrong? We discussed how are we supposed to process these emotions and how do we show up as ‘leaders’ within our own communities. What is the correct response to the race problem? What we agreed was that your response doesn’t need to be politically on point and it takes courage to speak up when you’re afraid of being wrong but saying something is better than saying nothing.
A dignified young black female leader in the group showed us all the way, she gave us permission to deal with this as humans, be angry, be shocked, be whatever you feel. There is no right or wrong there is only your way, grieve and be aware and be conscious of your behaviour around race.
What I observed in myself was that when this kind lady shared her thoughts and observations she gave me the opportunity to explore mine. I felt safe. I felt I could have an opinion and it gave my subconscious permission to release the emotion that I had been suppressing. Creating that safe space to explore my emotions and face them, I was able to safely release them and therefore begin the process of healing
I share this story with you because watching your emotions, giving them space to be seen enables you to move on. Awareness gives you what you need to process, and processing allows you to release. To be clear – clears your emotional debris and helps you to live your best life.
Your response to this tragedy and whatever this brings up for you is valid, deal with it in a sacred, kind space
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