Anticipatory Grief and Other New Pandemic-Related Emotions
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The crisis caused by the new virus has left us with an unprecedented set of unfamiliar emotions.
We have highs and lows on top of the undercurrent of an unbearable dread. The undercurrent is multi-dimensional. Breaking it down into parts and naming it is crucial to our health, safety, and sanity.
We live with the realization that we could lose our loved ones.
Those who are alone in quarantine grieve the loss of all direct human connection. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones who they couldn't touch or even be near at the end.
We have lost so much, and many elements missing from our normal lives are intangible and can hardly be identified. Because it is ambiguous, we find it difficult to know what we are mourning.
It is a loss of the way we have lived, the boundaries between work, home, school. Our plans, weddings, birthday parties, loss of safety and trust in our leadership. The loss of connection, the fear of economic toll.
We are dealing with the feeling of uncertainty, and we don't know when our feeling of uncertainty will end.
We dream about when we can safely leave our homes, see our loved ones, and go back to normal. We wonder if our businesses will reopen or when we will stop feeling so paralyzed with fear.
We can identify and articulate our feelings to ourselves, our diaries, or our loved ones.
Identify your stress triggers and check in with each emotion: guilt, shame, helplessness, irritation, anger, disconnection, but also gratitude, love, and compassion.
Those who always look on the bright side are not the ones who cope the best in crisis. It's those who cultivate an attitude of Tragic Optimism - the ability to maintain hope and find meaning in crisis.
When we cultivate Tragic Optimism, we could turn life's negative aspects into something positive and constructive.
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