Grieving and Growing Thru Covid-19

In 1969 Swiss-American psychiatrist  Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote the classic book On Death and Dying in which she introduced us to the five stages of grief associated with both the fear and inevitable reality of dying: denial; isolation; anger; bargaining, depression; acceptance.  

The Corona pandemic has brought fear, anger and grief to all of us in one form or another. I’m sure that the Kübler-Ross grief model applies to what each one of us is going through right now. Where in the grieving model do you find yourself?  Who would have ever believed that the world’s largest economy could be shut down over night? Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have isolated us from family, friends and work colleagues. Not to mention family members who can’t hug let alone visit a loved one in a nursing home. Not sure about the bargaining phase; maybe: lose your job or take a huge pay-cut! As the shutdown continues and unemployment numbers skyrocket, we’ll begin to see more signs of depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and physical assault in our communities.  We’ve all accepted the “15-days to Slow the Spread” order but many are refusing to accept the “30 Days To Slow The Spread” extension.

Two thousand years ago Jesus warned us: In this world you will have trouble.*

Every day we hear someone say: “We’re all in this together” or “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.” Great statements, but my question to you is this:  Who is Covid-19 making you become?

On the slide below I’ve captured my journey through the pandemic: my struggles, frustrations, key learnings and hopefully my growth. I find parts of me still in all three zones. For example, I’m still angry that the virus made it out of Wuhan as it did. I’m angry with the political theater on both sides of the aisle. But I’m learning how to be productive and connected on Zoom. I’m forming some good habits such as daily walks with my spouse and dog, calling up friends just to say hello, watching less TV and reading more. And I’m growing by having a morning quiet time, reflecting on and journaling what I’m thankful for and reaching out to neighbors whom I’ve neglected for the past nine years. Today I did another free webinar for a hurting client and I’ve been able to serve at 2nd Harvest Food Bank these past five weeks.  Lots of positives are coming my way in spite of this negative situation.

How’s your journey through Corona been? Are you stuck in the Fear/Anger Zone or are you moving forward and defining who you want to be during Covid-19?  Our reactions to this “new normal” are impacted by the stress we are experiencing and how our natural behavioral profile is trying to adapt to this stress. Some of us are coping better because we can embrace change easier. If you are a high dominant individual, you are inclined to try to control the situation and take matters into your own hands (e.g. I’m going to decide if I wear a mask or not).  If by nature you have a higher propensity to conformity, then you will closely follow the instructions that the health professionals are issuing. And lastly, if you are very social and out-going (high extrovert), you’re probably experiencing a lot of stress and dissatisfaction during this lockdown because you can’t be physically close to family and friends.

When Covid-19 has run its course, when the lockdown is over and life gets to “normal”, will anything be different about you? Have you learned anything new about yourself; have you grown personally or professionally through this experience?

*Jesus said: I have told you these things, so that in me you have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world! ” John 16:33