It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. So goes the lyric from the alternative rock band, REM’s song by the same name.
This song hit the music charts in 1987 with it’s frenetic, fast-paced syncopated lyrics referencing everything from Soviet ruler Leonid Brezhnev to biblical rapture to comedic lines of Lenny Bruce. It sifted out everything strangely wrong with the world and weirdly juxtaposed. Is it any wonder it has become an anthem to our current situation during the coronavirus pandemic?
The feeling of loss for a life previously lived.
It is common to feel a loss and grieve after we lose someone from our lives, be it due to a death, a divorce, or maybe a moving away and losing touch. When this happens, we sometimes characterize our lives as life before, with that person, and life after. The void we feel can seem like the end of the world as we know it. And it kind of is.
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine
What lies ahead of us, on the other side of our grief, is a new life. One without the person, activity, and things we were used to doing.
During this time of Covid-19 so many people have lost beloved spouses, parents, siblings, and friends. Their lives are certainly changed and their grieving real.
But what if we are grieving our way of life before Covid-19?
Grief during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I know I have been feeling blue and suddenly exhausted these past few months. I finally identified it as grief.
According to Psychology Today, grief is the acute pain that accompanies loss. Because it is a reflection of what we love, it can feel all-encompassing.
Grief for the life I had going on, before Covid-19. The life I had a relationship with. My job was humming along providing me a decent living without the fear of contracting an infectious and possibly deadly disease.
My social calendar was full of evenings out with friends, music, movies, and date nights with my guy. I looked forward to travel plans and exploring new places. I felt pretty grounded with life in general.
Then the world and life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. Literally a standstill for the better of three months.
Do I feel fine?
I felt paralyzed; with information, with overwhelm, with disbelief. It did feel like a death or at least as traumatic as one.
When something traumatic happens there is that numb feeling you get and you walk around like a zombie, barely eating or changing out of your pajamas.
Then comes the why. Why did this happen? What caused it? Will it ever get better? Will I ever feel better?
The trauma here is not just the virus itself but also the mass diet of information and misinformation. The fast-paced frenzy of it all made my head spin and my heart race. Not unlike REM’s song.
It’s as if the initial stages of grieving are prolonged because this surreal reality is presented to us, in our face, every day. We are not given time to heal from any of it.
I think I am now in the stage of grieving and lamenting my past self, the life before Covid-19. In order to move forward, I recognize I must let go of what was, knowing it cannot be the same again. But I mourn for that loss.
Here we are.
Every morning I wake up, a little foggy from my dream state, and think, Oh, maybe everything is actually fine today. Sadly no. The news reports continue to be grim, reminding me Covid-19 is ever so present, looming over everyone’s actions of the day like the spector it is.
It is difficult to plan very far out into the future. I hear friends and family say, When this is all over we will do x,y,z again.
Yes, we will travel again. The world has not stopped spinning. We will attend concerts and movies and feel safe enough to hug once more. When this is all over.
Life has no other choice but to move forward, even during times of loss. It is how we pick up the pieces and choose to create something new which can breathe in a new existence. When a precious vase or bowl breaks, instead of throwing it out we may gently pick up the remains and mindfully glue them back together fastening them to form a new bowl or vase. Or if all else fails, make art.
The current reality we find ourselves living in.
It may be the end of the world as I knew it, but here are ways I am picking up my pieces, to create a new world.
I am writing more, which not only is cathartic but provides a source of creativity. The empty page is my canvas and my words, the colorful paints.
I may not be able to go out to a concert so I live stream the music into my living room, and I dance like no one is watching.
I walk almost daily, putting one foot in front of the other. It is a meditation in itself.
I cook at home. It is a date night with my favorite guy as we fill our table and our bellies with delicious, nurturing food. In times such as these, nurturing ourselves body and soul is vital.
If my cup of emotional stability is empty due to grief and loss and anxiety then I am unable to pour from it to help another. During these uncertain times, it is all too easy to remain paralyzed in our own grief. It is necessary to find small ways to nurture our own selves.
And last but not at all least, I wear a mask when I am in public. Life is different now and if we are to find ways to move forward with care and safety for the entire community, wearing a mask is a simple way to show my compassion.
There was a time before Coronavirus. There will be life after it as well.
Maybe it was the end of the world as we knew it. Maybe it needed to end in order for us to grieve, pick up the pieces, and create something new.
Life is a work in progress.
MaryRose lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest between mountains and water. She is a traveler, massage therapist, a vegetarian foodie, and most importantly a mother of two amazing grown kids. When not working she is active in a local PFlag chapter and works for social justice with the LGBTQ community