We are a world in mourning.
Nobody is saying it. We recognize that people who have lost family members to the horrible virus are grieving and those with compassion grieve for them but everyone is is grieving. Children have lost their friends, teachers, milestones.
My son is in 6th grade. Next year he will go to middle school. This was his last year as a kid, next year he will be a teenager and his work to become an adult will begin in earnest. Sixth graders in his school do community service. My son was to help out at a food pantry. He was excited about that. Canceled with school. The sixth grade camp out he looked forward to for 6 years, gone. Sixth grade graduation, yearbook signing, walking the hallways to the cheers of the school on the last day of their elementary education all of it lost to this virus. He will never get that back. He will survive of course. There will be other camp outs, there will be graduations, but there will never be 6th grade camp out, 6th grade graduation or walking the halls to the cheers of all the little kids as you become a young adult.
This is my sons loss.
He is also an only child. This means he can not physically play with other children. He plays video games with his friends online. I try to limit screen time but how do I say, no you can't play with your friends because it is online? We found a way to social distance play with our neighbors, but that can be hard and he feels bad if he forgets and gets too close. He feels alone and he is alone. Mom and dad don't make up for the lack of social contact with his peers. They do online class (which is more about engagement than classwork), he does packets from school for his education. He doesn't want to do it. He doesn't like having the camera on. I'm not sure why. I make him do it anyway and he finds a way after I do to have fun. Maybe he is sad because he sees his friends' siblings in the background and it makes him feel more alone. Maybe the fact that he can't play with them makes him sad and he doesn't want anyone to see. Maybe he doesn't know what to say or do and that makes him feel shy. I don't know. I know he is suffering and I can't fix it.
You might say, "well you don't have it bad, not like some" and you would be right. My Darling is able to work from home. My mother is healthy and safe. I am still collecting pay, less than if I was working but regular. I don't fear losing the roof over my head and there is plenty of food in the pantry and freezer. We are ok. But we still have lost. We have lost all sense of normal. And we have no idea when it will come back, if it will ever come back. We are suddenly very aware of how precarious our lives are, for health but also for economics. So many live pay check to pay check. My Darling and I are savers, worst case scenario planners and even we don't have that much of a cushion. Six months out of work we would exhaust our savings, six months after that we would max out our credit. Yet those people with the most, those one percenters, are making money during this shutdown. They are still doing better. Capitalist claim they deserve the lions share of profit because they take the risks but when it all comes crashing down they don't lose, we do. They get bailed out we are on our own.
But even the wealthy have lost. We watch celebrities online talk about "we are all in this together" from their million dollar mansions and we call them out of touch, how dare they compare their suffering to ours with their private theatres and garden pools. But like me, they have lost too. All the stuff doesn't make up for human contact. It doesn't make up for not being able to do what you love. making art is just as important to them as going up north (for michiganders), or the beach (in CA, Florida or Hawaii) or just taking your kids to the playground and gossiping with the other moms. We have all lost human contact and doing what makes us happy, or just being safe in our jobs.
And so many people truly and completely alone. Single's homes have become like prisons. Maybe if they are lucky they have a pet but they have no human contact. Talking on the phone, video apps or even out the window isn't the same. We are a herd animal, we live in tribes. We crave human contact, physical contact. We are damaged by the lack of human contact. Babies who are not held are damaged for life. The elderly left alone will die, not of illness, but of loneliness. Your home can feel like a prison when you can't leave and no one can visit you.
Elderly people in nursing homes waving through the windows at their children and grandchildren have lost. Families with relatives in actual prisons who they can't visit and who are trapped in hot spots for infection with no escape. Already trapped they are tortured with watching as those around them are carried off infected. How helpless they must feel. To think you have fallen as far as you can go and then learn there is still father you can fall.
So much loss. We are grieving but we don't say it out loud. We don't recognize our grief. You can turn on the nightly news and see all stages of grief.
denial - It's all a hoax
bargaining - Please God, if I go to church and pray, make this go away and keep my family safe
depression - the medical community that must deal with death and loss every day
acceptance - People doing what is necessary without complaint, making masks, volunteering for food distribution, checking in on neighbors and friends and recognizing that we are all in this together and we have all experienced loss that will change us forever.
So go ahead and grieve, someone else's grief, no matter how much they have lost, doesn't take away yours and you don't have to deny your right to grieve.
It is ok to be sad, to be angry, to yell and cry and feel betrayed. Just remember, we are all in grief and be kind.
And wash your hands.
I wish you Peace
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