I will be writing other blogs in the coming weeks to offer perspectives on, these difficult times we are all living through.
As I have observed the enormous physical and emotional impact of the deadly virus Covid-19, both within myself, my family members, friends and clients, I realized that there was no person who has not been effected by this unbelievable experience! And now, the addition of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota captured on camera by by-standers and the worldwide protests and riots that followed, have created a state of news numbness that have left most people feeling overwhelmed and fearful of what might be coming next!
I was born during World War II and although friends and neighbors died in the war, it was all.far away from the United States, and thank goodness, it never was fought on our land. I can remember the Air Raid Drills and the wardens in white metal hats coming around to see that our shades were drawn and we left no lights on for the imaginary enemy planes to pin point houses. The same surreal distance was true with the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Americans were deeply concerned about the wars but many could keep their head down and continue in their normal daily activities, even if they were worried about loved ones and friends. Of course 9/11 was different because the terrorist activity happened right in New York City, on American soil, killing over 3,500 people and causing many secondary deaths from exposure to the burning towers and other chemical hazards.
As a grief counselor for over forty years, I have come to learn that we are very rarely prepared for what terrible event life has in store for us. It is only our resiliency tools and supportive relationships that can help us survive. This worldwide illness that knows no borders, religion, race, age, political or socio-economic distinction, has literally stopped the world as we knew it. The latest tragic death of George Floyd and the racial and social unrest it has triggered has further divided our people. It happened just when we needed to come together the most to survive the pandemic which has killed so many and continues to devastate our nation.
In December of 2019, I felt overwhelmed with the many activities I had committed to, including my private clients, groups, community education and directing a challenging children’s Broadway musical, A Year With Frog and Toad, for Center Players of Freehold, NewJersey. This special arts group is an award winning community theater which I have loved and been involved with for over twenty four years. I used to joke, ”Stop the world, I want to get off!” It has been said, “Be careful what you wish for because you might get it!” The beginning of March 2020, the world did stop and will probably never be quite the same after we emerge from quarantine and the experiences we have gone through these past months.
Each one of us is going through a grief experience. Of course each person is different, and everyone’s circumstance is unique, but all of our lives have been touched. Most people can easily understand grieving the death of a loved one due to the virus. This invisible enemy did not allow them to be close to their family member or friend when he or she died and stopped them from having a traditional funeral or other comforting grief practices. This was and is extraordinarily painful. But there are so many other losses that changed peoples lives. The death of a family business that generations have worked so hard to maintain, the end of a job site that will put so many out of work and possibly in poverty conditions, and the fear that the dreams so many people aspired to which included career success, financial security, and peace in our country may be shattered. There are numerous other circumstances but I can’t mention them all. We must try not to measure or judge what is a worse loss but respect the truth that we are all valuable people and that we are all grieving
We may not all be in the same boat but we are each experiencing our own sadness for what we have been missing during these months of sheltering in place and social distancing. We are all going through the stages of grief but for different reasons and as we know the stages can come and go and even return.
In the beginning, many people couldn’t believe the virus was that serious or deadly. They went on as if everything was the same. They were in Denial! They might have even joked or made fun of those who were taking this pandemic seriously. Gradually, reality sank in and the horror of the numbers of people affected and dying became undeniable. People became Angry and looked for someone or something to blame for this crisis. Whether it be a foreign country, our own government, the greed of hospitals that were not prepared, or government leaders who were not providing accurate facts to help us understand what was happening to our great country. Gradually, people talked about when this might end and we could open up our lives again, perhaps a magic pill, the summer weather, quick cures, etc. They were Bargaining and hoping for a respite from the daily heaviness of the reality we were all living in. Gradually, people seemed to have given up on the instant cures and other possibilities and many felt sad and Depressed over what the future might hold for us.We may have felt out of control or overwhelmed. Despite all the chaos and anguish of our world today, there are those who are looking to learn lessons from what we all are going through and make changes so that there is hope for a better tomorrow. We are not there yet but if we continue to learn and grow and follow the loving values we were raised with, we have a good chance of having an even better world, more fair, more protective of the vulnerable, a higher value for the time we have with loved ones, and with greater opportunity for those willing and able to work and learn. We will need Acceptance and awareness of what has happened to help plan for a better future but it is possible!!
We all have been having our own reactions to our grief over all that that has befallen us due to age stage differences, cultural training, financial circumstances, levels of social connectedness and physical health. All of our lives are precious and we need to find the tools that help us keep our balance, hour to hour, day by day.
I will be writing more blogs to highlight stories of positive survival despite these painful times. I am very interested in hearing how you are doing so leave a message on our phone, 732 577-1076, write your thoughts on our GIERS Facebook page, or go to our GIERS.org website.
Wishing you all kindness and caring during this journey,