Grief: The Loss of Normalcy
“Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to you. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love.” - Elizabeth Gilbert
I was recently reading an article published in Harvard Business Review. Scott Berinato interviewed David Kessler, who co-wrote with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss. His new book adds another stage to the process, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. He was asked if he thought that people were grieving at the moment. His response was: "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. 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.“ According to David Kessler we are feeling anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. 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. This breaks our sense of safety. We’re feeling that loss of safety. I don’t think we’ve collectively lost our sense of general safety like this. Individually or as smaller groups, people have felt this. But all together, this is new. We are grieving on a micro and a macro level." He provides some valuable advice on managing the non linear stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, acceptance and meaning) and discusses techniques on how to deal with anticipatory grief which include finding balance in the things that you are thinking, coming into the present, letting go of what you cannot control and stocking up on compassion. More information can be found in the article. It is a worthwhile read.