Grief in the Time of…

How is it for you? Are you feeling like the floor under your feet has turned to water?

Myself, I can’t keep a thought in my head today. My short-term memory is shot. My muscles are all in a bunch. It was a day to get back to work after taking time off for my 96-year-old father-in-law’s funeral (a whole other surreal COVID-19 story). I pulled it together for a few hours, with effort–and with the support of my management team, who are wonderful people, who are reeling themselves.

Grief is part of my disorientation. Not just grief over our family’s loss, but grief over the “new normal” that so far feels anything but normal. In my area we are not (yet) on lockdown, but are instructed to stay at home unless we need to go to work, buy groceries, or get other necessities.

I know that many are dealing with greater losses and unspeakable pain, but my private grief is this: I miss my routine, my work camaraderie, my writing group, my yoga buddies, and the studio where I practice yoga several times a week. I miss knowing I can give a friend a hug without hesitation. I miss feeling like I know what to expect in the near future (even if that sense of security was always an illusion, at bottom.)

As my manager put it, “We are all mourning the loss of life as we knew it.”

And we had the first COVID-19 death in my county a few days ago. It feels horribly sad: The person’s partner could not be there, because of being quarantined at home. The couple had to say their goodbyes via iPad. Can you imagine?

(If you are experiencing deep sorrow, you may be interested in this Community Grief Ritual happening remotely on Friday.)

We have to be strong, kind, and brave now, and lift each other as best we can. On my neighborhood Facebook group, someone has changed the banner photo to a drawing of children in a sunlit field and the words “Tiny Acts of Kindness.”

I’m lucky: my immediate neighborhood is already tightknit. But I suspect this period of uncertainty will draw many more people closer together. I hear stories of people talking with neighbors they haven’t seen in years… supplying toilet paper when a friend’s stocks are low (yes, it’s a real issue!)… and willingly going into the grocery store to shop for an elderly couple sitting in their car afraid to enter the store. Total strangers, mind you. People in general are being soft and caring with each other.

This thing we are going through together–affecting all of us, the entire world–has the potential to open us up, if we let it.

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Pea shoots, chickweed, salad burnett from my backyard

Are we self-perceived rugged individualists/proud nationalists evolving into a global community with the help of viral activity that shows us how truly interconnected we are?

Lest you point to ugly behaviors we might see in our social media feeds, consider this. For every mean story that gets magnified and reposted and outraged over (oh how we love to be outraged!), there are thousands of tiny acts of kindness that go unmagnified. And big ones too. We may be wired to notice and dwell on the ugly (negativity bias, anyone?) but we can train ourselves to see and celebrate and savor the good.

Gratitude: My major gratitude for a dreary day was the first chickweed harvest of the year. Chickweed grows abundantly, for free (they don’t call it a weed for nothing). It is a succulent little salad addition. I also celebrate the harvest of salad burnet that wintered over in my garden tower, and Austrian winter pea shoots that I planted last fall.

(It just occurred to me that I could have added chives to my salad too, but I spaced it.)

Tip of the Day: Forgive yourself everything. Others too. Practice radical compassion. If ever the phrase “Life’s too short” applied, I would say it does now. Not sure how? Here’s Rick Hanson, one of the wisest teachers around, on the subject.

Resources of the Day: I thought I would post some food options today since that is a basic need we all have, and speaking for myself, I can get triggered if I feel like I will run out. There is an abundance of food available. Indy-area people: Check out Becker Farms (local meat/eggs), Indy’s Food Coop (organic produce and more), Azure Standard (bulk items and more–there is a local drop but it is national).

Here’s a list of places where students can be fed while out of school because of coronavirus.

Also check out this marvelous recipe compilation, offering many great ways to use up nonperishable items you might already have on hand.

Till next time, friends. Feel free to comment with more resources, tips, or anything else you want to say.

5 thoughts on “Grief in the Time of…

  1. Thanks, Shawndra. We are all mourning, indeed. I love the spring salad from your garden and all it symbolizes. Sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. May his memory be a blessing.

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