Since this crisis began I have been trying to put out messages of support, encouragement and hope. I thank each of you for your part in that and for your constant encouragement. I have also been having a number of private conversations with people who have had the confidence to share their challenges with me throughout these days, and that has been a humbling gift to me that I cannot describe. I decided to go through them all and create the outline/summary below. If these words bring the slightest comfort to just one of us it makes it all worth it for me. And of course as always, if anyone would like to discuss any of these thoughts with me, just message me.
It is so important to acknowledge how impactful this is on all of us in so many ways. It's alright to be anxious, fearful, sad. You are not alone. Reminding ourselves of that can be helpful.
People with underlying health challenges may have a harder time with the illness, but people who are already facing substantial emotional challenges will likely have a more difficult time with this, emotionally. That applies to all of us to some extent, and to some of us, to a greater extent. It is important to remember that.
Passing of loved ones
Of all of this new pain, we are experiencing in our world, the one that is most unimaginable is our loved ones passing away and families not being able to hold proper funerals, and just as painful, not be with them in their final days. One of the most painful things I have heard people say who have lost loved ones is, "She died alone." And yet, I am so inspired by so many who have suffered that loss saying to me, "We all got together on Zoom and had a beautiful session of remembrance." How amazing our human spirit is that we can even make the best of such an unimaginable and painful situation! People have also told me how they will be planning something special where family and friends can be together again, and properly remember their loved one who passed. I believe the creative ways people will find to memorialize those who have passed during this crisis will be solemnly beautiful and honorable, beyond what we can even envision now.
The sadness of missed events (graduations, vacations, weddings, funerals)
Try to access a more helpful/hopeful perspective, such as envisioning the new events we will eventually experience in our lives (Excitement of starting in the next school, planning new vacations, etc.)
The loss of connection, isolation
Difficult, but there are ways to mitigate that pain (Video chats, virtual parties, connections through social media (positive content only!), virtual therapy, etc.)
The feeling of extreme loss on so many levels.
Again, perspective switch, to focus on what we have, and what we will have again.
There are many people suffering an additional burden - unemployment, and uncertainty whether their businesses will fully recover. Small business owners live in fear, uncertain whether their businesses will fully recover or recover at all. Unemployment benefits, a temporary and limited remedy, is a benefit that many are having difficulty accessing. Many have gone for months without any relief. I hope they can try their best to focus on the days when this is completely behind us. We are seeing encouraging news of most states opening up steadily. I am not an economics or business expert but I do know that all of the powers of government will do everything they can to get our country back to 100% financially, and that cannot be done without bringing our employment levels and consumer spending back to where it was before this came upon us. While the pain of those of us experiencing economic uncertainty is their very own, they are certainly not alone, and the American people won't settle for anything less than how things were just a few months ago.
Action/activism/caring for others.
Action can be very helpful. Go through our contacts and text/call friends and people who may also be struggling, check in on neighbors, shop for those who can't get out, etc. When sudden pain comes upon us action keeps us from "sinking," at helps us at least "tread water."
"Permission to feel"
There is a delicate balance between being aware of what we are feeling and addressing those feelings to the extent that we can, and making ourselves even more sad and anxious. Give ourselves permission to feel, or that pain can manifest itself in other destructive ways such as substance abuse, hostility, depression etc. This requires practice and self-care.
Manifestations of the pain we are feeling
There is the sadness, anxiety, and fears that we are aware of but just as powerful, and potentially more harmful, are the pains that we are feeling and we are not aware of. Try to be mindful of destructive coping mechanisms that we may have resorted to in our life and worked through, reappearing now, such as, anger, substance abuse, hostility, etc. Personally, as good as I feel about recognizing my feelings and journaling about them through this, I am astounded lately when I occasionally identify less than helpful coping mechanisms that I have abandoned many years ago. It is so important to be open to detecting those.
This too shall pass?
A sometimes overused cliché, but strategically envisioning a time when this is behind us this can be very helpful. Humanity has experienced so many atrocities and so many painful events that could never have been realized or anticipated before they happened - wars, mass murder, and genocide, depressions, famines. Although with great suffering, we always came through them all and hopefully, better off than we were before. One way that we can realize the hope of a better tomorrow, is thinking for a moment on our past pains and how we came through them, both as humanity, and individually in our lives. We will come through the darkness, into the light, together, with the love and support of each other. And somehow, collectively and individually, we will be better because of this.
See My blog on my experience when I had the virus, for further reading: https://joefoxalliance.com/2020/03/30/reflections-during-my-covid-19-infection/