It’s one day short of a year since I last posted. I promise not to stay away so long in the future. That said, fair warning, this is not a cheery, Happy New Year post. It is a post recognizing the pain of my/our year amidst a global pandemic. It is also a post about hope and faith, for without those, we are lost.
As we enter our third year with Covid laying over the globe in a pall like a soft haze cloaking what was once normal life, we struggle to make sense of it all. For me, 2021 became a raging battle with grief as I placed Martin into a memory care home. It was no doubt the worst day of both our lives.
Over the months which followed, I watched Martin decline further into oblivion. My grief over the loss of his personhood, that citadel of self, grew in so many unexpected, public ways. I was surprised at the depth of my anger, the feelings of profound loss, immediate, primary, secondary, anticipatory. Unrelenting spirit robbing emotions. My anger was so prevalent I initially thought there was something wrong with me. This is where grief counselors, social workers and doctors come in. Along with feelings of helplessness, sadness, loneliness and depression, anger is a very normal emotion of grieving.
Viewing news clips of people acting out in various ways over restrictions fostered by Covid, I understood, even as the pandemic took a backseat to my private sorrow. I say private. However, like those tearful or angry people on the news, my sorrow, feelings of loss, of no control, of loneliness declared itself in what’s known as grieving out loud. The downside of grieving out loud is the revelation of our society’s discomfort with the emotions of grief. Judgment abounds, even within our pandemic worn medical community. In my grief I’ve been characterized as “too emotional”.
However, even when grief is publicly displayed, it is personal. We each grieve in our own way, in our own time. For example, to someone who grieves in a cognitive way, volunteering may help them find solace. But, for someone grieving out loud, volunteering may cause the grief to be internalized and never resolved. For caregivers in specific, it may be trading one caregiving role for another. I’ve given myself permission to grieve for as long as it takes, engage in a period of extended self-care and rest, and most importantly, not internalize my feelings due to societal expectations and discomfort.
Knowing this, I would like to wrap my arms around the big wide world in a huge hug of comfort and reassurance. Grief is about what was lost, what is and what may have been. Grief is complicated. While the world seems to be roiling in madness, grief is not a negative. We may not be comfortable with the public displays of grief we see and hear, yet these emotions can give way to a better world. Grieving is necessary for our mental, emotional and spiritual selves to recover our lives and move forward. I have hope both for myself and our global community. Hope lights our path to the future.
As I strive to light my pathway I have faith we, as humans, can transcend beyond the seeming hopelessness of our current situation. As a species, we have overcome so many things in our past including other pandemics and epidemics. Gathering strength from the lost past I mourn, I have faith we can collectively emerge with greater strength and resilience.
In the midst of uncertainty, let us go into 2022 with hope and faith. Faith that humanity will conquer this dark time. Hope for a better day than we ever imagined. Faith in the resilience of the human spirit. Hope for overcoming what appears insurmountable at this moment. Faith that we can care for ourselves and each other with kindness, forgiveness and comfort. Hope for turning our grief into renewed meaning and purpose.
As we look to the New Year, let us embrace it together with hope and faith.