There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we are currently traveling through the death of the world as we have known it. I also know that death, in this case, is not an ending. Instead, as the old world is imploding upon itself, a new world is beginning to be born. While we may have hope in the new that is coming forth out of this dying, it is also important to grieve.
Grief is the miraculous process that we have been given to move through that which is ceasing to be. Grief creates the pathway through which we can release the old while making way for the new. Grief, when engaged in fully, also helps to heal us from the loss so that we might be open to receiving the new life that is promised on the other side of the death.
The process of grief has been said to present itself to us in the following faces:
As it relates to the death our world is currently facing as brought forth through Covid-19, humanity is wavering somewhere between the stages of shock, denial, and bargaining.
Shock is the feeling we are all having as our lives have suddenly experienced a dramatic change. Holy crap – this sh*t is real! For many, (myself included), our lives have simply stopped. With shock, all we can do is acknowledge the dramatic change while attempting to find our way into and through it. As wave upon wave of new (and sometimes false) information comes our way, we may find our shock retriggered. Again, acknowledge the trauma of the shock while trying to find a “new normal” for yourself.
Denial is when we don’t believe it’s real. This is the state the U.S. was in for weeks/ maybe months as the virus was devastating other parts of the world, but hadn’t yet impacted us. Many continue to be in denial over the potentially critical nature of the virus and the fear that many are experiencing as a result.
Bargaining is the stage that seems to be most apparent right now. Bargaining is often characterized in a literal sense as in bargaining with God over the fate of a loved one. Bargaining is also recognized in:
- Desire for information: If we could only find enough information and the right information around this virus we will all be ok.
- Attempts at control: Trying to find ways we can control the virus and the life we are living in the face of a pandemic. Some recent examples include:
- Arguing over the perceived loss of civil liberties.
- Protesting the stay at home orders.
- Arguing for stricter stay at home orders.
- Wearing masks/not wearing masks
- Creating theories around what is true or not so that we can feel better (or in control)
- Needing to be right.
- Pointing the Finger of Blame: All the ways in which we criticize and condemn others for their response to the virus and our judgments around their response. This includes all the ways we shame others by telling them they are wrong.
- If/Then scenarios: This somewhat falls into the control category. “If I wear my mask everywhere I won’t get it.” “If I’m only with those who I know haven’t been exposed, then I’ll be fine.” “If I think the right thoughts, take the right supplements, eat the right foods, then I will be fine.”
All of these are natural human responses to grief. There is no judgment of these reactions and none of them are wrong. This is what we do when the world that we have known is suddenly yanked out from beneath us and we are left floating in the void of the unknown. We are looking for something to hang on to, something that is concrete. We grasp after the illusion of control when the world around us is completely outside of our realm of control. We cannot delay the inevitable. Neither can we stop it.
But there is one thing we can do to ease our fear and heal our pain:
When we peel our grasping fingers off the throat of the dying world and allow ourselves to surrender to the unknown – this is where we find peace. When we cease grasping after control, we will find that there is no risk of sinking into despair because instead, we will find ourselves being gently carried to whatever the new world might be for us. When we let go we are able to grieve the loss of the old, find healing for our loss and be made ready for the new life that is silently calling to us from out of the depths of the void.
Where are you finding yourself in the grieving process? What aspects of the dying world are your grieving? What might you begin to let go of as you move through your own grieving process?