Grief is not something you feel only when you lose a loved one. Grief is different, it’s subjective and it can be hard to figure out. It is very discomforting: something which we are all feeling right now. The uncertain times we’re living in causes a huge sense of loss for us.
During a Skype call with my friends, there’s a strange pit in my stomach. It’s inexplicable, really. I don’t know what that was supposed to feel like, but it happened after a strange realization that life just won’t be the same anymore. That Skype calls cannot replace our chai addas and college campus. It cannot replace the feeling I get when I am with my friends, when we laugh at random things, and the silence it follows. I don’t know when I will be able to meet them. And like everyone who has embraced this new norm, I tell myself:
But for now, this will do.
How many times have we said this to ourselves in the past month alone? When we made the switch to a more digital life than before, we consoled ourselves with this. And when we had to give up going out to movie theaters and switched to Netflix full-time. It’s this same line I heard my mother tell her friends when she was on call with her friends.
Oftentimes, grief unfolds itself in front of us in very strange ways. A pandemic was the least expected to all of us and the collective trauma we’re going through leads to grief. We’re grieving the loss of so many things. We’re grieving people whom we lost to the virus and the time we’re losing. And we’re grieving the falling economy and the uncertainty about life after the pandemic.
And let me be the one to tell you this: It’s valid. Whatever you’re going through is valid, however grief manifests itself in you is valid. We’re all going through it and you’re not the only one.
The Stages of Grief
The stages of grief is a concept by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who proposed this in 1969. It is quite popular and gives us a framework of how grief takes place. It was noticed that people don’t necessarily follow the stages in a linear way. They keep shifting and jumping form one stage to another. But this provides a clear framework to help us identify what we’re feeling.
Image sourced from VeryWellMind
The first stage of grief is denial. We all went through during the initial phase, when Covid-19 was not a pandemic. I used to hear people say, ‘Oh, but it’s not in India, no? Everything’s fine.’ And then it was something like, “Oh but it’s not THAT bad, right? We can still go out.” Do you remember yourself saying something similar to this? Denial is how we cope with an impending doom. If we don’t see it, and deny it, then it’s not real. And something like a virus is even easier to deny. It’s okay, it’s not that bad because it’s not here! Right?
Then comes anger. Oh, the boiling anger. Everyone’s angry. Everyone’s looking to blame someone. Some blame the government, some curse God. We’re all at our wit’s end by now and it’s getting worse as the situation grows worse. It comes to a point where all you are seeing is red. It’s unfair, you think. And then the irritation also, living with the same people and not being able to move can cause so many fights and everyone’s getting on your nerves.
‘How could this happen?’
‘Who let this happen to me?’
‘How dare they stop me from doing what I want to do!’
Bargaining is next stage. It is a negotiation, really. Like when you talk to the shopkeeper and say, “bhaiya, okay, let’s meet on the middle ground, I will pay only 250 rupees or I won’t buy it.”
It’s a lot like this, except for bigger situations. In our pandemic situation, it can be “Okay, let’s see. I’ll stay at home for 2 weeks only (NOT MORE!) and then I’ll come out and by then it should be clear.” The bargaining stage is the transition stage between denial and acceptance.This comes as a last resort for you to make things right and you hope and pray that it works. It is when you are not out-rightly refusing to acknowledge the existence of something but you’re also not fully embracing it. This is an essential period because it leads us to acceptance slowly.
Depression. The stage before acceptance. Depression is when we are feeling helpless, and sad, and we give up. We’re tired from the anger and we know that it’s of no use. There’s a sense of dejection that surrounds us and all we’re feeling is blue. Our appetites have changed. We want to cry everyday and it still doesn’t seem enough for us. We think if this is worth living. This is not what we signed up for but we can’t do anything about it. And we feel so lost.
What do I do next? Where do I go? Will I be able to do things I thought I would after this is over?
These can be the questions that can haunt us and we are losing sleep over this. Depression hits. And it’s not pretty at all but it’s valid. Every question we have in mind is essential. Individuals spend the most time here in their grieving process. Depression is extremely essential to go through because this leads us to acceptance.
The last stage: acceptance. We’ve accepted the situation fully. We know that there’s nothing we can do about a pandemic, except stay home and keep ourselves healthy. We know there’s a long road ahead of us, but we’re embracing the now. We’re embracing the new normal of staying home and working from home or just catching up on shows. We doing this because we know there’s nothing more we can do.
I see it on social media, the tweets and the memes we make to spread humor and cheer in our lives, even for a little while. This is another way of acceptance.
Now that we know what grief looks like, here’s what we can do to make the process a bit easier:
In our last article, we discussed how grounding is essential and beneficial for us. Grounding is something we can use in our daily life to ease ourselves and help us with our anger and anxiousness. Grounding includes meditation, boxed breathing and journaling as techniques to help us be in touch with ourselves. It improves our mood and provides a lot of benefits to our body.
Sit with it
One of the main aspects that help us go through this experience is to embrace it fully. The more we embrace it, the more we heal. When we deny our emotions, it becomes extremely difficult to deal with it. Sitting with our emotions is extremely essential to our healing journey. We wrote a blog post on this, be sure to check it out!
Another way to cope with grief is to get creative: Arts, journal, poetry, music. All these are ways we can accept our emotions in a way that suits us. When we’re getting creative, our emotions lead us. Our emotions dictate what we do in our creative space. And sometimes it is essential that we let our emotions take over us. That’s the most difficult yet the most rewarding aspect of healing.
Lastly, remember that grieving is okay. We’re all going through a collective trauma at the moment and all our emotions are valid given what is going around. The process of processing grief is a long, unwinding road and it will only get longer if we don’t tread it. It feels insurmountable now but with patience, it gets better.
You can always get in touch with us on Instagram or Twitter if you have questions and we’ll be happy to answer you! If you feel like the pain is unbearable and you want professional help, you can book a session with us and we’ll get through this together!
Pause for Perspective