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The stages of grief

A reflective moment on the Saranac River. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

I feel like there is a lot of judgment about people’s right to disappointment. Perhaps I’m incorrect. It’s been known to happen, just ask my children. I don’t have to understand everyone’s emotions, especially the ones swirling around my own house. I can sympathize, even empathize with some situations. I hope I am supportive, even though my experiences are different. I hope I don’t judge based on circumstances I’m not facing. The way I help center myself and my family when emotions run high is to remember that we are all undergoing a level of grief in some way.

There is a process of grief. The Kubler-Ross model includes five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each loss during this pandemic isn’t always a physical death, though the possibility swirls around each of us. It could be a loss of a business or a relationship. It could be fear of the unknown or the loss of stability and safety. We have all been bulldozed over by shock that we are in the middle of a pandemic and quarantine. We’ve had bouts of anger for the loss of income, the change to our schedules and the separation of friends and family. There is denial that rules are important and bargaining that exceptions should be made. Sometimes I am quick to go right to acceptance while someone else may linger in disappointment.

There are also different types of loss. My friends’ pain is not my own. Our losses are unique. Some people mourn what they took for granted. Some people grieve for lost experiences and missed opportunities. Some people have young children so their grief is compounded by their children’s losses. Others are alone and pine for what could have been. Some are completely unaffected. There is no wrong way. We are coping as we should at this time of loss. I don’t have to have the same experience to at least try to understand someone’s emotions. I don’t have to agree with their level of sorrow, because it’s not my grief to hold.

When my children get into a futuristic world firestorm, I remind them to put on life’s brakes. Yes, the world has shut down but we can’t spend too much time weaving our way through the “what ifs” and “what nows.”

My family is doing remarkably well. I didn’t want this column to be read like this is my cry for help. We are fine. We try to honor the losses for what they are and celebrate the victories when we can. We allow ourselves to feel whatever emotion hits us at the time. I don’t analyze every stage of grief for every incident, but it helps to understand that this unprecedented time allows for sorrow. We learn, grow, and eventually accept the loss. Please continue to check in with family, friends, and neighbors. Their grief may be invisible to you.

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