I have been grieving. I didn’t realise it at first, I thought I was just in denial. I wanted everything to go back to how it was before lockdown and I thought “it will, it will”. But actually denial is one of the stages of grief. Once I remembered this, I checked myself and wondered what my other signs of grief might be.
Kubler-Ross and Kessler describe the six stages of grief as anger, denial, bargaining, depression, acceptance – and then finding meaning. The first five stages can come in any order – often denial is first, but not always. Grief looks different for everyone. We move through these stages of grief in different orders, at different times; we spend a bit of time in one, then move on to another – and we might go back over a stage too, possibly even a few times over.
I realise my denial around the “new normal” is part of my grieving process. I have been moving around these first five stages in varying degrees through the lockdown too. I have felt angry – at the virus, at the lockdown, at cancelled plans, at the inability to make plans, at the change in routine – and many other things. I have bargained with myself around lockdown rules, authority, politicians, journalists, my own future ideals. I have had moments of complete acceptance around home-schooling, online work, a future with less freedom to move, and I have had days when I feel so, so sad.
These are all stages of grief. Perhaps I am grieving. It fits, and it also feels very, very appropriate.
The sixth stage of grief – finding meaning. This will be incredible. I have dabbled in this stage too, but it is hard to remain in this stage if we still have grief in us and I think I still do. It is also hard perhaps to find meaning when we still don’t know all the answers, or what things will look like after this lockdown is over.
Can we allow ourselves to grieve? To grieve the old normal. What if grief is the ultimate letting go: the deep and thorough letting go of the old. In order that we can not only allow space for the new, but to truly find a meaning in what will be, for most of us, a very new normal.
Author: Lucinda Gordon Lennox
Trauma Specialist MSc (Reg MBACP, FDAP Accred)