Stranger Days #6: Naming

A chalk board with Scrabble tiles that spells out "Stranger Days".

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Some of us have been impacted by this for going on three weeks and others, maybe only a week.  The economy bounces up and down and a recession is definitely coming, which has some "leadership" saying, we can't stay in to save lives and that the economy is more important while other "leadership" is asking the elderly to sacrifice themselves in the name of the economy and risk getting COVID-19.  

When leaders tell us that people are disposable in name of the economy, we're being told that any of our lives doesn't matter to them. In those moments, it becomes clear what such leadership is fearing: their own potential political demise or their own loss of large assets.  They have the capacity to help those who are going to suffer from recession but they would rather leave the vulnerable to die to keep their coffers filled.  

All of this feels disorienting and challenging on top of just trying to reconcile how we're in this strange new situation. As I said in a post on Using Your Words, I found an article that I thought also helps me think about and process my way through what is going on these days.  In That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief, Scott Berinato interviews David Kessler, co-author of On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss.  He frames our current experience as feeling a tremendous feeling of loss and grief:  

"Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air."

I know that what I grapple with most in this is anticipatory grief, described as, ""Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it."  There's a strong sense of security about how life was up until two weeks ago.  Lots of things were going great and essentially, this doesn't disrupt that (yet) but it's in the (yet) that I anticipate the big and small impacts it will have on me, my loved ones, friends, and everyone I know. It's hard to not think about (or "anticipate") those elements and so this article helps with that.  

I will say though that in some ways, such exercises can be useful if they can be contained. I think anticipatory grief can also operate as a mechanism to prep ourselves emotionally for what comes next. In many realms of our lives, we talk about envisioning how things will go and we do so because that can make use feel stronger and more able when doing the thing we were envisioning.  So in that regard, I think this anticipatory grief is both normal and useful; it's trying to not go too far or not being able to pull away that is most challenging. 

Here's to naming and navigating--getting through this ordeal with some better sense of ourselves.   

Take care. Be careful. Be care-filled.  Welcome to stranger days.

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