This week the biggest thing I’ve talked about is grief. At first, as the world shifted on its axis (seemingly slowly but only because things changed minute to minute and there was so much to adjust to), I thought all I had to deal with was my response to fear. And to find a way to keep myself and my family healthy and safe and not be panicky and fearful about that. But as the week progressed and our reality unfolded, and I started to talk to people and notice my reactions to their reaction I realized it’s all (mostly) grief. And everyone is somewhere in that process as everything we thought we knew and all the ways we operated and the things we were sure of, suddenly weren’t sure or even possible anymore. In our house, it unfolded so swiftly it took me by surprise.
My husband returned from an interstate trip. In the week he was away the pandemic unfolded and I did all the things that helped me make sense of it, I spoke to a few trusted sources and read a few (too many) scientific (and not scientific) articles and got clear about how I felt about it then. We decided (together) that he would self isolate (this was recommended by the State Gov 2 days later anyway) and I also made the call to keep the kids home from school while he did that. The first few days were the weekend, so nothing really changed except he could totally sleep, eat and watch TV in our room with the en-suite. The only thing missing was me, and he was tired and needed to rest. But as the work week rolled around he shifted rapidly from denial (the bit where he was away and focused only on work) to bargaining (the bit where he would rest for a few days and all would be good) to being really super f@*king angry about the reality of his work (an essential service as an Ag business) and managing his team, and getting ready for seeding and tying to do this from the bedroom (with the walls closing in and a wife and four anxious kids outside who were missing their friends, their school routine, their sporting activities and all the things they considered normal). We fought. Before this, I thought (assumed) he was where I was – I assumed (wrongly) that he had processed what it meant for the world to shift on its axis and he was where I was. Accepting. Alternating with sad and angry. But mostly accepting. Not knowing what it all means and how it will be OK, but knowing it will be.
It took him about a day and half to move through the anger, frustration and blame bit (and probably it’s not all done, as things will change again and that bit will come up). It was hard. I was cool and not so cool. Him too. But the thing about my husband is that once he gets clear and calm he’s super wise and articulate. I just always want him to be there sooner than he is. Of course.
Just remember that grief is a process. And it’s not linear. And we cycle through it multiple times and at various speeds and it’s unlikely that whoever you are sharing this time with will be in exactly the same place as you at the same time. And that’s OK. Have empathy for you, and for them. You can not judge someone’s denial/anger/sadness without being in fear yourself. It’s only possible to hold space for them if you can hold it for you.
I have cried over the craziest things, and not over the things I thought I would. I cried after picking up my daughters things from school and wondering if she’ll miss all the last year of primary school stuff that she’s been dreaming of. That is grief. I have gotten furious over spilling my half drunk cup of tea on my desk, and forgetting cat food at the shop. That is grief. I have shrieked at my children for saying ‘Mum’ 40,000 times in an hour and for not going to sleep by 9pm because I can not take another second with them (anxiously) trying to be with me every second because they are scared. That is grief.
So wherever you are, however it unfolds, just be with that. We will all be OK and mostly we owe ourselves the time to feel what we feel.
Big hugs with ruthless compassion xx
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