When Life Changes

This aggressive pandemic we are experiencing threatens the entire world with the loss of so many things we care about and that give our life meaning. For some it is the loss of loved ones to the virus, or their own health risks; for others, the loss of a job or financial security, the loss of freedoms, right down to things like the loss of our travel plans to visit family or opportunities to go places and do things. Any time we experience loss, grief is the normal human response.

We grieve more than simply those who have died. We are grieving life as we knew it, feeling our world has changed, which it has, and trying to come to terms with this new reality.

Social distancing has kept people apart from friends, family, church, social involvement and work colleagues for what seems like ages. One 70 year old recently widowed lady told a colleague of mine that her daughter comes once a week to drop off groceries on her front porch. She then stands back the required 6 feet to keep her safe. Her granddaughter also drops by to check in on her but stands in the driveway 6 feet away. “What I would give for a hug”, she cries, but she feels so lonely and isolated even though everyone she loves is only 6 feet away.

Normal public gathering places like restaurants, cinemas, museums and theatres have been shut down, parks are closed and shopping centres deserted. Public activities and social gatherings like sporting events or concerts that formerly brought people together are not happening. Places of work have moved from the usual offices and shops to work-from-home scenarios, which have their own unique stresses. And that’s just the lucky ones who haven’t been laid off or lost their jobs.

Some of life’s most meaningful events and celebrations have been cancelled or postponed. Travel plans have been disrupted. People have found themselves unable to gather for birthdays, anniversary parties, baptisms or weddings. Many have not been able to visit with, or say goodbye to dying family members in long term care facilities because of quarantine. And when loved ones die, even funeral rituals have had to be enforced by strict rules, regulations and restrictions, leaving people to lament, “This is not what I wanted for my relative.”

While we are able to stay in contact with people digitally thanks to internet technology, many are beginning to realize the limitations of mere virtual love and cyber concern, (which could be one good thing in the long term!)

The events surrounding this global pandemic have triggered an outbreak of emotions and reactions, not merely around how many have been infected or died, but to the ways in which our entire lives have been affected and perhaps changed forever. As a result, we are experiencing feelings of grief.

This series of blogs is intended to provide some insights and coping strategies for people who are experiencing numerous losses in these days and who are grieving the changes this pandemic has brought to their lives.

The world has changed. Or has it? Here is a very important foundational fact: “We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.”

When things are going well and we are happy, the world seems like a wonderful place. But when a tragedy occurs, when a loved one dies; or when challenging times turn our world upside down or we face a myriad of losses; we might be more likely to regard the world as a cruel, unkind and often scary place.

So which is it? Is it a wonderful world, or is it a cruel and unkind world? The answer is found in understanding that “we do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” Has the world changed; or has the way we see the world been transformed.

So, how do you see your world in these challenging times? I realize that for many, your world looks very different than it did before this pandemic. While there may be similarities in people’s stories and experiences, your situation is unique. I wish I could ask each person reading my words, “What is it like to walk in your shoes in these days?” Send me an email at info@griefjourney.com and let me know.

In our next blog we will try to understand WHY we grieve.