As a therapist I keep thinking about what I’ll see and hear when we come out on the other side of all of this. Not only a week or a few months out but years from now. The main word that comes to mind is grief, felt by everyone, in multiple ways and on various levels. I imagine some will be unprocessed for quite some time but years later I’ll be in a session and someone will bring up where they were during the global pandemic and we’ll trace unresolved issues back to this time. It’s difficult to process while we’re living through the moment, even for those of us who are constantly working to process our emotions. I think it’s similar to a loved one dying. How do you prepare for a new normal when you cannot know what life will look like? The difference now is that we’re all going to be grieving, both collectively and individually. While there are similarities in grief there are layers of differences as well. Some of us will grieve the loss of loved ones and/or acquaintances, jobs, homes, the births that were supposed to be filled with excitement rather than fear, the funerals we couldn’t attend, and money. I think we will all grieve the loss of stability as we learn to accept that the rug of “normal life” was abruptly pulled out from underneath us. I don’t have the answers for what we do now and how we navigate the unique situation we’ve all been placed in. The main suggestion I offer is that people find a way to do something that helps them feel calm. Those things vary from person to person, but some examples include, working out, journaling, watching reality television, talking to friends, hugging a loved one (if you have that option), building Legos, and limiting one’s news intake. During this time our feelings (I say our because we’re all in this together) will ebb and flow. Sometimes we’ll feel like we’ve got a good handle on things and have settled into a new norm and then we’ll realize that we used the word normal and go to a place of sadness. Some people will feel guilt because they’re also having moments of happiness. If you have those smiles and laughs, and I bet you will, I encourage you to savor them as much as possible. Right now it’s about survival. If you are able to process some of what’s going on that’s great and if not that is okay too. Remember, there will be lots of people here to help you on the other side of this. You will have an opportunity to process and grieve and it will be important that you let yourself. Grieving and feeling our feelings doesn’t mean an inability to function but rather it is what allows us to keep moving forward and function at our best selves.

Over my years as a therapist I’ve seen firsthand and been in awe over the incredible resilience I’ve witnessed in people. I believe we all have the ability to find the resilience within ourselves.

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  1. Philip Gardner

    Hi, Jessica–I enjoyed this post, especially, “I think it’s similar to a loved one dying. How do you prepare for a new normal when you cannot know what life will look like?” It is so difficult to live suspended in this space of not-living/not-grieving. Hope you are well and staying safe.

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