Missing Normalcy: 5 Stages of Grief

I have been feeling a little off lately. I feel tired most of the time though I can’t even remember doing too much physical job. My routine goes just the same: office work – online class – rest – repeat. But lately, I felt too weak and sleepy.

I usually sleep around 11pm and wake up 6:30am. Yesterday, I decided to sleep as early as 9pm because my eyes were a little heavy. I woke up 6:45am. Just when I thought that my energy will be restored, I went to office with the same tired and heavy feeling. Perhaps its not just some kind of physical exhaustion. It’s beyond that.

I posted about this a year ago in my other blog. However, this time the toll seems kind of heavier. Is it because of the pandemic? Is it because of limited movements? Is it because of uncertainties at work and the looming recession? I don’t know. One thing’s for certain – we are undergoing a collective anxiety or collective grief. I know I am not the only one experiencing this.

This year, we’ve let go of too many people without the chance of actually saying goodbye. Relationships ended. Friends and family members died. Plans failed. Jobs lost. The worst thing about this pandemic is its open-endedness. When will this end? We’re robbed of the normalcy of life and we’re not sure when are we going to fully embrace this “new normal”.

I had a discussion with a friend about COVID. She told me that it is not “real”, implying that it’s just a fabricated issue, a ploy of the authorities for their selfish gain. While part of me agrees that yes, to some extent there are social and political, even financial maneuvering to make the most of the situation, but for the sake of my friends and loved ones who suffered, and some even died because of COVID, I cannot just dismiss it to a simple cough and flu. It is real, and so its effects.

The worst thing about this pandemic is its open-endedness. When will this end? We’re robbed of the normalcy of life and we’re not sure when are we going to fully embrace this “new normal”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in her book “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss”, referenced five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though we may not particularly experience these in linear timeline, these serve as tools to help us frame and identify what we are going through.

I’d like to borrow an illustration from Harvard Business Review article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” by Scott Berinato.

Denial: “This virus won’t affect us”.

Anger: “You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities”.

Bargaining: “Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right?”

Sadness: “I don’t know when this will end”.

Acceptance: “This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed”

While the power lies in acceptance, the process of “getting there” is equally important. Grief is almost always unwelcome, but it makes us grounded. It makes us whole. It makes us capable of understanding others. It makes us human. Challenges and sufferings are crucibles that purifies us from the inside, and grief is a part of the purifying process. Cliché it may sound but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. If we know how to process our emotions, we’ll end up better with wider and meaningful perspective of things.  

While the power lies in acceptance, the process of “getting there” is equally important. Grief is almost always unwelcome, but it makes us grounded. It makes us whole. It makes us capable of understanding others. It makes us human.

Grieve if you must. Don’t hold back the tears. Weep and wail if necessary. It’s OK to not be OK. You’re doing yourself a favor if you acknowledge that you’re not at your best.

So yes, admittedly I am getting anxious. Seven months after community quarantine was first implemented, I still don’t know what I am even afraid of. I get tired emotionally to the point that I get tired physically as well. Virtual meetings are great alternative but it gets too taxing even. I miss normalcy, but normal as I know it seems elusive as of now.

But soon, I know we’ll get through this.

Related blogs:

Sadness and Sepia Moments: http://bit.ly/SadnessMoments

When You Can’t Find Joy: http://bit.ly/CantFindJoy

The Gift of Acceptance: http://bit.ly/38vNlx3

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash