Grief, the Pandemic and Knowing What’s Enough

We are entering the 8 month hump of the pandemic. Those who are several months out from the loss of a loved one are well aware of the emotional humps that tag along to a timeline of grief.   We have “the calendar of firsts”, some which are blatant like birthdays and holidays, but there are also those not so obvious like missing the opportunity to text a loved one about a joyful moment.  There is also the FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out.  Those grieving painfully watch as the world seems to move on without them.  You’re not quite ready to join in but it’s painful to watch those around you seemingly enjoying life without you.  Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the loss of a normal life during a pandemic, grief brings its ups and downs and the exhaustion the soul feels, leaving one to feel at 8 months, “Am I ever going to make it to the other side of hope?”   

Grief of any loss certainly brings on feelings of scarcity; scarcity of control, joy, happy moments, finances, security, and to bring it down to simple human experiences the ordinary, normal day.  Whether society is influenced by social media, marketing or parental guilt, the attitude of living an ordinary normal life is viewed as a failure. Scarcity and the fear of the ordinary drives society towards that Instagram decorated and organized home, the Facebook worthy vacation, their teen’s scholarship winning report card or their child’s soccer career banking them a full ride to the college of their dreams.  Struggling with the daily grind of attaining the extraordinary especially during grief and inoculating against scarcity wears on ones psyche and breeds a perfect environment for hitting the wall. 

Brene Brown has stated, “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance, it’s ENOUGH” and we have said many times at SandCastles, that getting out of bed in the morning and brushing your teeth while grieving is ENOUGH.  But we are constantly looking out of our own “personalized colored” glasses, telling ourselves, “Well that’s not ENOUGH”.  Everyone’s path to ENOUGH is just as unique as their grief.  If we can stop looking at what’s going on in the house next to us we can trust that what’s going on in our home is ENOUGH.  You know your family best, trust what’s ENOUGH for them.  A colleague and friend of mine has a favorite mantra, “everything always has a way of working out, you just don’t know how or when”.  I would add, “If it hasn’t worked out it’s not the end”.  Part of the problem we struggle with is control; we want to control how it works out, because what if how it ends isn’t “ENOUGH”? 

A great quote for inspiration during the slumps of grief is, “So far, you’ve survived 100% of your worst days.”  And isn’t that the truth.  It may be messy, ugly and downright overwhelming but you have survived everything so far.  Surviving is also unique.  You as a family need to look at everyone’s individual coping skills as well as habits of support for the entire family.  It takes courage to know what your coping needs are versus those of other family members.  I once read an article on being brave.  The writer was reminiscing about a family trip where the adults were cheering their kids on as the kids jumped off the cliff into the lake.  One child was hesitant.  The writer takes a moment to reflect, isn’t saying no to something just as brave and courageous?  Saying no is ENOUGH.   Saying no also contributes to surviving. 

Whether you are grieving the death of a loved one or grieving the layers of loss during the pandemic there is hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Know that an ordinary, normal day brings peace and holds value.  Understand what you and your family choose for support is ENOUGH.  And most importantly, remember that sometimes saying no is just as brave as jumping.  Carrie ten Boom once said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off.  You sit still and trust the engineer”.  Trust that you and your family will continue to survive through the tunnel of grief because what you are doing is ENOUGH.

Michele S. Kreft, LMSW

Program Supervisor

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