Loss, Grief, and Hope

Wow! What has happened to our world since the last edition of Wise Words? Life as we knew it has truly been upended. We began January with the start of a shiny new year, 2020, yet things changed dramatically along the way.

For almost all of us, we are now working from home. What does this mean? For some, it includes trying to schedule work hours and computer access around the access needs of children and spouse. Remember that not everyone in this country has more than one computer at home – in fact, there are many homes in this country where people don’t have internet access, including here in the National Capital Region of Washington, DC.

Techniques to deal with loss

For others, it means learning to work remotely and be physically on your own all the time. In my case, I am working from my home office, connecting with clients via Zoom and other platforms. We’re delivering training courses that meet the needs of our clients, facilitating strategic planning sessions, and conducting coaching sessions – all via varying online platforms. All of the Wise Ways Consulting team are practicing social distancing as directed by our local state governments.

Loss

What many of us are experiencing is loss. “What kind of loss, Melissa?” you might think. “I’m an introvert, I’ve been practicing for this for the majority of my life! I’m loving this!” And that’s wonderful for you! But for many, there is loss – and it presents in differing ways. The loss of physically connecting with your team members at break, even the ones that drive you a little batty. The loss of your son or daughter’s senior prom or graduation events and trying to soothe their fears that they may not even start college in the fall. The loss of income as friends and colleagues are furloughed or let go. The loss of personal space, for those who chose to self-isolate by moving in with older family members. For those who live alone, the loss of human touch.

And of course, the overarching fear – we may contract the virus or someone we care about will become sick and possibly die. For those of us who have relatives in different locations and countries – the realization that if one of them gets sick, we cannot be there for them.

But before you try to tell people that “our relatives before us had to go to war, we’re just being asked to watch Netflix and chill” recognize the role that loss can play in our lives. Everyone’s loss is legitimate; there is no comparing each other’s loss and saying “well my loss is greater than yours because….” Seriously, no one wants to hear it. The biggest loss is always your own.

Grief

When we deal with loss, we then deal with grief. While we may try to say that we’re not grieving, we are, even in not-so-obvious ways. Grief is the response to loss – and while it is typically thought to be focused on an emotional response, it also includes physical, cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual components. Do you see people on Facebook joking about being pleased with themselves that they managed to shower and brush their teeth in the morning? The loss of normal routine can be extremely stressful for people. People are struggling with physical responses – a lack of sleep, low energy, lack of drive to press forward. As we struggle to identify what our new normal is going to be, people are trying to understand how this will impact them.

Joe Primo works for an organization called, Good Grief. It provides support to children and teens who have experienced a death or loss. In his TEDX talk , which you can find in the articles and video section of this newsletter, he explains that grief is good because it puts your life back to together. And though grief is one of the hardest emotions to work through, it navigates you forward. Grief teaches you about your powers of endurance, character, and friendship.

As a world community, we are grieving the loss of life as we know it. Your grief is different from mine, but just as valid and emotionally draining. I can see it on my video conferences as my clients struggle to “work”. I’m sure you can see it too, either on the faces of your (now) video colleagues, friends, and family, and certainly in the bathroom mirror in the morning through your own eyes.

It’s okay to grieve, in fact it is critical. It’s important to recognize that grieving is a process and to trust the emotion of grief and all other emotions that come with it. Grieving doesn’t work on a schedule; you’re not going to wake up one morning and ‘poof’ it’s over! Talk it out. Keep a journal. Sleep. Exercise. Eat well. Reach out to others. Keep a regular schedule. And most importantly right now, wash your hands and stay home.

Hope

Looking forward to life “post-Covid”, what do you want your world to look like? How will your life be new and unique from what it is now? What do you want to do differently? What might this new future hold for you? Identify goals and set intentions for change and growth. Use this time now to take a class or identify ways to grow toward your new mindset.

Each day, consider these Daily Quarantine Questions (author unknown)

  • Who am I checking on or connecting with today?
  • What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
  • How am I getting outside today?
  • How am I moving my body today?
  • How am I expressing my creativity today?
  • What type of self-care am I practicing today?
  • What am I grateful for today?

Part of the grieving process is having hope for a new tomorrow. We will be a different society as we march into 2021, and I hope next April’s newsletter reflects that hope that we’ve all seen and the lives we’ve helped to create.

I welcome your feedback, ideas, and the chance to connect anytime you want to say hello. Contact me with your 2020 questions and goals.