April 5, 2021

Emotions

Re-entry is coming. Some of us can’t wait, others have anxiety about what it means. Many of use feel both emotions at the same time. Most of us are processing the past year and will be for some time. The trauma is real and is felt in many forms. The loss of life is overwhelming, some communities affected more heavily than others. Many had trauma from isolation and loneliness, others their loss of livelihood and creativity. Some had all of the above. None of us had the chance to grieve properly due to inability to have large rituals to mourn, as well as excess numbers of deaths. We felt our grief in isolation. Pandemic grief is important not to ignore.

Soon we can find more space for grieving and healing. Healing from trauma can happen in 3 stages: safety first, then remembrance and mourning, followed by reconnection

Re-entry will start with safety first, after vaccinations are widespread in our communities. Then we can focus on remembrance and mourning, including mourning our old lives and what we have lost. We can share our grief with others. We can start to understand our new “normal” and move from helplessness to hopefulness. For some it will be easier than others.

Re-connection can help us move forward through our healing and grief to share with others and re-consider our lives. Some of it will feel joyful and full of bliss, some will be uncomfortable as we move through our individual journeys.

Identifying our emotions can help. I particularly like this wheel of emotions by Junto that show how the core emotions break out into feelings with more depth and nuance.

Many of us are not sure how we will handle the re-entry and have anxiety about the return to frequent interactions. Many have been able to channel their inner introvert and found they liked it. Re-entry will take some time. Go gentle with it and with yourselves. Grief, Fear, Anxiety are emotions we have lived with for a year and setting them down will be both a challenge and relief. The constant stress from the pandemic year of COVID can hurt our brains and slow their function. We must take some time to start to recover. It is one good reason to be patient as immunizations ramp up. More and more people will feel the relief of safety for the first time in more than a year and re-emergence will occur.

Rituals can help us through these changing times as we start to revive. A ritual can be as simple as preparing tea, sharing the experience with others, but also works well if one is isolated and feeling more lonely.

And as it turns out, cocoa and chocolate can protect your heart from stress, as shown in a new study. But we already learned from Harry Potter and friends that chocolate helps after encounters with Dementors. We can remember to put that knowledge to good use. I am always for more chocolate.

We are getting closer to being together. Our anxiety is real and paying attention to how you feel can help with the transition.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, keep safe six, unless you all have been fully vaccinated.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/generalprofessionalissues/91911

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/26/pandemic-grief-could-become-its-own-health-crisis/

https://www.thejuntoinstitute.com/emotion-wheels/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/parenting/quarantine-brain-memory.html

https://www.mdlinx.com/news/lonely-these-odd-rituals-can-help-study-finds/Z1fmUWPwd7RGxaRPBUHVP

https://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/acquiring-a-tea-drinking-ritual-could-help-get-you-through-the-final-stretch-of-this-pandemic-winter/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210331114734.htm