I still wake up every morning and check my reality. For a second I think it’s all a dream and I’m going to get up, get ready and get the kids up and ready for school….and then it hits me. My new reality. We are on lockdown in our homes due to a viral global pandemic. I’m sure soon it will not feel like a dream and it will be my reality but for now I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
I get it… believe me, as a physician married to a physician working the front line, I really get it. We need to social distance, we need to home school, we need to cancel all events, we need to shut down the economy to save lives. But, I still don’t “get it.” There’s so many layers happening. We need to protect ourselves and each other and rather then fighting a war outside, we are being asked to fight this one from our couch. It seems like a simple enough task, but so many of us are having a hard time.
We are being asked to cancel life events that we’ve been planning for months or years, we are being asked to home school our kids with no experience but fortunately with the help of amazing teachers virtually, we are being asked to distance ourselves from loved ones, we are being asked to give up our livelihoods and stop working, and some are being asked to risk their health so that they can provide essential care. I get it…but it doesn’t mean we can’t be sad about it…all of it.
My son just had a bar mitzvah. There were 10 people there; our Rabbi and our closest family. He was called to the torah… via zoom, he was watched by our friends and family…via zoom. It was the most surreal and beautiful experience of my life. It was the best worst case scenario. Over 100 people watching and supporting us virtually. Nine days before the event we were having a catered luncheon at our house with a photo booth and a game truck and slowly over the week as news of Corona pandemic spread we were asked to only have immediate family at our synagogue. During that 9 day period, I was in denial, I cried, I bargained, I gat mad…I finally accepted and we tried to make it the most positive experience for our son. We forged on and called it the “Barred” Mitzvah. We made it work, and made some incredible memories.
But here’s the key element to my story; I. Had. To. Mourn. I had to grieve the fact that my reality had changed, I had to mourn that what my son envisioned for his special day, for a day he worked so incredibly hard for, was not going to come to fruition. And that’s ok. Many people applauded us for being positive, but before the positivity, came the overwhelming sadness and sense of loss.
Don’t skip that step! We have all lost something, whether or not you had to cancel an event, our reality changed overnight. And in the end, we all need to be positive and look at the beauty of it (yes, there is beauty in it!), but before that we must mourn the loss of the reality we had a brief time ago. We must let ourselves feel the grief, we must let our loved ones feel the grief and then get to a place of acceptance. I have overwhelming gratitude for the way our son’s bar mitzvah turned out but it all came with time and perspective. Give you and your loved ones grace and be okay with feeling sadness and grief, go through the stages to get yourself to acceptance and hopefully to the place of joy and love. One day at a time.
Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim- Vicki Harrison