What we are really feeling

That feeling you have right now? It’s grief.

Our lives have been turned upside down, comfort zones smashed, futures uncertain. Every assumption we had about daily existence is in limbo. Our tempers are short. We’re not sleeping well. Each new headline generates a visceral reaction. Every emotion is amplified.

The suffering and death that used to be happening to someone else is directly touching each of us.

We all know someone who is Covid19 positive. In time, we will know people who have died. Perhaps the most frightening dimension is that we are looking our own mortality squarely in the face. Any one of us could become a victim of Corona’s indiscriminate swath.

“It feels like a free-fall,” Santa Rosa, Calif., psychotherapist, Francis Weller told NPR. “What we once held as solid is no longer something we can rely upon.”

“I’m in limbo.” Political reporter Don Gonyea, quoting from an article in Vanity Fair.

The evolution of awareness is following the Kueblar-Ross grief continuum like a text book. You can see it happening in real time on your social media feeds. From quarantined homes to the highest levels of government, we are grieving.

Our traditions have disappeared. March Madness, Opening Day, commencement, the Tokyo Olympics, that commute we thought we hated, are all are scrapped or postponed. Summer weddings, fall football, even the freedom to visit loved ones may not happen this year.

“Thou shalt stand four cubits apart.” a sign outside of a church, shared by Janine Latus

And the worst of it is that we are denied our most fundamental need. We can’t physically come together to comfort one another.

We must commiserate on FaceTime, on the phone or via a river of words we type into emails, Tweets and Facebook posts.

Covid19 has forced us to confront our deepest fears. The reality of impermanence is smacking us in the face. The key question is, how can we transform the horrific present reality in to the defining moment of our lives.

What we all crave most right now is hope. We want to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s out there. We just can’t see it yet.

The basics haven’t changed. We still need to create a meaningful life, make a contribution and earn a living. Jim Stockdale’s admonition that we confront the realities of our present situation directly, accepting what is, but not losing faith in our ability to prevail, is absolutely essential.

“My five year goal is to make it through the year.” Jane Aldrich

What can we build with what we have, from where we are, right now?

Our favorite restaurants are delivering the food we love to us. Telemedicine and on-line learning have quickly jumped from beta tests into every day facts of life.

Hope springs from humanity’s natural resilience. There is great opportunity in every challenge. We have the potential to emerge from this pandemic sadder, wiser, stronger, and perhaps better people.

My treasured friend, LA Grief Counselor, Lisa Murray, distills the beginnings of healing into two powerful sentences.

“We can’t go back to what was. We can only pick up the pieces and go forward with what is.”

Can we start down that road when it feels like the worst is still yet to come?

Yes.

History has taught us that great things happen and character is revealed in the darkest moments, not in times of comfort and ease.

Here are common basics that are part of the plots of history’s most inspiring stories of trial and redemption.

Find your “Why”.

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”  ~ Dr. Viktor Frankl,

The fire that keeps us going is our “Why”: Why are the priorities we choose important? Why do we get up in the morning? Why is life worth living? As we grieve, remembering our “Why” can be that light we seek at the end of the tunnel.

Live one day at a time.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ~ Mother Theresa

What can we do right now to take a small step toward creating and maximizing the opportunities that exist in our new reality?

Hang on to what traditions remain: exercise, proper fuel, staying in contact with people you care about, finding ways to serve others. Keeping your body, mind and spirit healthy.. These are the best inoculations against any sickness.

Help one another.

Turning your focus toward adding value in the lives of others lightens your own burden. Giving your best ultimately reflects good things back at you.

For every viral video of two women fighting over a roll of toilet paper, there are a dozen stories of acts of kindness and love. Practicing generosity and compassion welds them into your DNA.

You might not feel like it right now. And it’s ok to take time to regroup when the pressure feels overwhelming. But get back into the game. We all play injured and stress is a requirement for becoming stronger.

As Max Lucado notes, “Don’t worry about having the right words; worry more about having the right heart.”

Just do it.

Keep the Faith.

With faith, there is always a future.

“The farmer has patience and trusts the process,” writes author Robin Sharma. “He just has the faith and deep understanding that through his daily efforts, the harvest will come. And then one day, almost out of nowhere, it does.”

The rules of the game may change. But the process of planting, tending and harvesting always remains the same.

Allow yourself time to grieve. Coping with loss may be a permanent part of your emerging world. But never let doubt control the narrative.

Doubt sees the obstacles. Faith sees the way. Doubt sees the darkest night. Faith sees the day. Doubt dreads to take a step. Faith soars high. Doubt questions who believes? Faith answers I.

Grief is our universal reality right now. It’s an unfortunate fact that there will be those out there who will try to leverage adversity to foment fear, uncertainty and doubt; to try to guide us further into the darkness for their benefit.

Don’t let that happen.

Our suffering has the power to unite us. And our healing can truly begin when we realize that we are all in this together.