Four days after moving into the home of my dreams with the partner of my dreams, I cried. Unfortunately, these weren’t tears of joy. Immediately, I began to judge myself. How dare I feel anything but gratitude for receiving what I’d always hoped for?
Unsure about what to do with these unwelcome emotions, I sat still, alone in a dark corner of my closet that I’d repurposed into a peaceful place to think, write, and meditate. What was this foreign feeling that was penetrating my well-being?
It was grief.
I released the wave of heaviness that had crashed onto the shores of my soul by writing two simple sentences in my journal.
I am grieving the loss of my independence.
I am grieving the loss of being able to celebrate a major milestone in my life.
When we hear the word grief, we often associate it with extreme loss such as the death of a loved one. But loss is loss, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, and with loss, comes grief. Think about all of the things you’ve lost as a result of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism.
People lost loved ones, income, and their health. Allowance for grief seems obvious and understandable in these instances. What we’ve failed to make space for is grieving all of the other losses that occurred simultaneously. Being able to do the simple things that sustained our sanity ceased. Many of us lost the opportunity to exercise or attend classes at our favorite gym, give or receive hugs, high fives and handshakes or spend quality time with family and friends. We were forced to carry on in the absence of routines, structure, school, childcare, graduations, proms, weddings, funerals, birthday celebrations, and vacations. Now, as things reopen and uncertainty looms heavily, the zest we once had for our favorite things is lost in the shadows of fear and anxiety.
When we aren’t aware of what we are feeling, challenging circumstances may cause the figurative formation of protective scar tissue around our hearts, which makes us immune to certain emotions. But, if it hasn’t already, the impact of the collective global pain that we are all experiencing in the wake of these prolonged pandemics will crack our feeling proof fortresses wide open. Suddenly, we will be left feeling everything, exposed to more intense emotions than we’ve ever felt before.
This is why it’s more important than ever to give yourself grace for grief. Acknowledge it, allow it, and release the self-imposed guilt or shame. Grant yourself permission, space and all of the time you need to feel your feelings. Offer gratitude for all that is not lost, including you. You are still here and you are not alone.
Excerpt from a previously published article in Model D, Lessons from a Life Coach: During COVID-19 Pandemic, Give Yourself Grace for Grief