Has COVID caused you true grief? You may surprised to know the answer.
Grief. Webster’s defines this word as “a deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.” In other words, an extreme sadness that is felt when someone or something dies. In my mind, you experience grief when you lose a loved one, or when you best friend moves away. Kids might feel grief when it’s time to flush Goldie down the toilet. Imagine my own surprise when I realized that my feelings today- and for the last 7 months- have also been grief.
Like so many of you, when COVID hit the U.S. back in February, I went on high alert as meetings/events started to cancel at a rapid rate. I assured myself that it was going to be ok… it was only 15 days, and then things would get back to normal. Spring events and summer concerts would carry on as planned.
But then they didn’t. Neither did the fall meetings/events. And as it’s going now, very few of the winter events will show up either.
The feelings I’ve felt over the last 7 months have run the gamut. At some point over the last 242 days (the number of days since my last scheduled event), I’ve experienced every single one of the following:
Passive… This isn’t a big deal; it’ll be short lived.
Excited… A few weeks of paid vacation? Yes please!!
Annoyed… Why won’t be just quarantine/wear a mask like they are asked to?
Bored… I’ve officially ran out of home projects to do.
Nervous… How long is this going to last, really??
Sad… I miss my job. And people.
Contemplative… What would I do if I had to change industries all together?
Disheartened… I can’t go anywhere, because everything is closed, and I’m running out of cash.
Scared… What am I going to do for money soon?
And while all of these thoughts and feelings- many of which kept me up at night- seemed to ebb and flow from week to week without any real correlation, I soon realized that I’ve been experiencing the various stages of grief- albeit detached from the typical order. Look again at my list of feelings above, and then look at the 5 stages of grief below:
There are some striking similarities. I haven’t been feeling all of these unintentional feelings for no reason. I am grieving.
And now it all makes sense.
For my entire adult life, I’ve worked. I’ve never been without a job, and even when I’ve transitioned to new jobs or opportunities, I scheduled my last day on Friday, and my first day at the new job on the following Monday. I love working, and I love what I do. I’ve been in the industry nonstop for 28 consecutive years, without a day that I wasn’t connected to what I love, in some manner or another. I find a lot of my identity… who I am, and what I have to offer… based off my work, my career, and my knowledge.
And just like the unexpected death of a loved one, I’ve lost this thing that I’ve always been connected to…the thing I’ve loved for 28 years… the career that I’ve approached with the enthusiasm of a hobbyist. Not by any action of myself, or even my employer (they have been more than gracious during this whole ordeal); but by an unseen enemy that has wiped the career and joy from SO MANY people this year.
So yeah, I’m grieving.
Where on the road to recovery am I now, you ask? Well, if I have learned anything about this process… it’s that it isn’t linear. There is a good chance I might revisit some previous stages again before this is all done. But to be frank… I’m currently hovering on the edge of the anger stage. I’m mad, ya’ll. Mad that Coronavirus is even a thing. Mad that we didn’t respond and eradicate it quicker. Mad that many leaders don’t seem to see and/or understand the devastation that this has caused, especially to our industry. I’m mad that people won’t just wear the damn mask, whether they agree or not. I’m mad that I feel like I’m being punished for a crime I didn’t commit. I’m mad because my career and my hobbies are parallel… and so when one goes, so does the other. I’m mad because I can’t even “get out of Dodge”, because everywhere else has the same issues/restrictions that “Dodge” does. I’m mad because funds are tighter than they should be, and it sucks.
But I’m not whining. Nor am I trying to make a political statement. My point in this entire article is to shed light. There is a good chance you are feeling many of the same feelings that I am. And you know what? It’s ok. In the depths of my logic… I know that this too shall pass, and that eventually, things will return to normal. Until then… I realize these feelings I have… I accept and validate them… and I wait with bated anticipation for the day when this is all behind us.
What about you? How are you doing with all of this? Have you found yourself grieving something that you lost unexpectedly?
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” -C.S. Lewis