Many are experiencing grief right now due to the loss that the pandemic is bringing. The loss of normalcy; the loss of connection; the loss of finances; and, for some, the loss of loved ones.
Many of you are acquainted with the five stages of grief that were outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. David Kessler, an expert on grief, talks about a sixth stage: finding meaning.
We don’t always go through these stages in a prescribed order. We may feel one, then another, and then go back again to the first one.
Many are in the shock and denial stage right now. They don’t want to believe that this pandemic is happening. They only want to hear good news and positive reports. As you accept the reality of what is happening, you can begin the healing process.
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. Anger is a secondary emotion and there can be many emotions under the anger. For example, most of us don’t like being told what to do and being told we have to stay home may bring up feelings of being controlled.
Bargaining is when we will do anything to stop what is happening. For example, believing that if I just social distance for two weeks, then everything will be all right. We may make promises to God, in order to persuade Him to stop the suffering. Guilt can also be associated with this stage. We think thoughts like “if only” and “what if.”
Depression or sadness is an appropriate response to a deep loss. To not experience sadness would be unusual.
When we come to a place of acceptance, it is not that we no longer feel the pain of loss. Sadness can still be present in this stage, but our survival techniques of denial, bargaining, and anger are less likely to be present.
Finding meaning in our loss is important. Viktor Frankel, who survived the holocaust, wrote a book entitled “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” During this time of uncertainty and loss, we have the choice to change ourselves. We can recognize what is truly important. We can be grateful. We can learn to love.