We have learned a lot this past year about coping, loneliness, grief, and introspection. As the world changed around the pandemic and the political and economic upheavals that came with it, so did we.
I consider the passage of this past year as a journey through the grief, what we learned and how we grew.
At first, we denied the spread and the severity of the coronavirus. Then conspiracy theories arose attributing it to a foreign bioweapon, fake news, or a common infection that OTC remedies would cure. Although some of those notions lingered, it became clear that this pandemic was different.
Then came the flood of anger when recommendations for health and safety guidelines were issued such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and lock downs. This was an understandable fear reaction. By denying the reality and reacting with anger, the emotional distress we felt could dissipate so we could cope with the drastic changes in our lives.
In the general stages of grief, we bargain with God, Creator, a Higher Power, to reverse this situation, make it go away, or take away the truth. You propose to offer an exchange of good behavior, charitable works, attention and care to loved ones, deprivation of a favored action (like I’ll quit smoking, drinking, etc.), in order to have the Higher Power ‘fix’ the problem.
Clearly, this pandemic wasn’t going to be fixed.
Depression and loneliness set in next. With the onset of enforced shutdowns of businesses, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing, isolation increased the degree and intensity of the depression and loneliness we all felt. No one escaped the mental and emotional side effects of the pandemic. Our lives and lifestyles were lost and altered forever.
Now life has gone on after grief and loss. We may have survived the virus but lost family or friends. We have survived. Acceptance remains. But what have we learned during this year of grief? Have we taken advantage of the opportunities this pandemic presented us?
During the time of isolation and loneliness, we were required to slow down. Some were even stopped in their tracks. Many now work or do business from home. Service businesses closed for months. Daily commutes may be a thing of the past.
This has given us the opportunity to move inward and reassess the priorities of our lives. With our health and mortality facing us, the importance of family, friends, and community we took for granted became vital for our mental and emotional well-being. Gratitude became a larger part of our discussion on wellness and happiness as we embraced those who survived.
There was an expansion of inward reflection. Personal Development, Meditation, Learning, and Spiritual Awareness became themes that attracted many during this isolation phase. We turned our attention to enlarging the inner world of mind, strengthening the body, and increasing spiritual consciousness.
Developing our relationship to the greater world and the issues of human impact on the environment moved to the forefront again as we saw how our reduced traffic impacted the air quality around us.
We can and did make a significant difference in the year of staying home.
We also viewed a year of divisiveness, discrimination, violence, and prejudice moving into the headlines. More people voted in the 2020 US election than ever before. We became aware of the issues of the day as our lives were limited to our homes. The virus demonstrated that despite our differences, everyone on the planet was at the mercy of the disease regardless of race, gender, or country.
Now we can see that including all others is key in continuing the conscious connection with the Universal heart and mind. Everyone in the world was a victim of the virus. We all suffered the devastation.
We are all healing together.
Let us take this time to reach our hands out to the global community and come together for the good of all as we recreate a new world without the restrictions and limitations of the old. When we open our doors after the pandemic, let us use the lessons we learned and open our minds and consciousness to greater love, compassion, and understanding to create, better, happier, slower, more thoughtful systems and actions that serve all, not just the top tier of the wealthy and powerful.