Okay everyone, I am about to unleash a whole pile of emotions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the new “Safe-at-home,” lifestyle we’re all now living. I say, “lifestyle,” because as far as I can see, life as I knew it is officially over. Yes, we will eventually leave our homes and go back to work, to shop, to gather in small groups and maybe even larger ones. But honestly, can anyone imagine that our pre-pandemic life is out there somewhere, waiting for us? Will we ever think the same way about a cough, a sneeze, a fever? Will we ever not think that the stranger next to us in line at Starbucks might be carrying a virus? Will we ever hug someone who does not live in our house without asking for permission? Will we ever forget that for a time we were confined to our homes, isolated from our children, grandchildren, siblings, friends and extended family? Will I ever erase the images of people dying alone in a hospital with only a doctor or nurse for comfort?
For most of the last couple of months, I have cycled through the stages of grief over and over. From shock, to denial, to bargaining, anger and acceptance and back again, sometimes not even in that order. I’ve observed the social media accounts of people I know, and don’t know, who seem to be enjoying this time as some sort of staycation. And yes, everyone copes differently. I suppose if my children were young and needed to be schooled, entertained and otherwise taught the lessons that are part and parcel of this historic time, I’d also find the wherewithal to be a good model. But honestly, I just can’t seem to shake the grief and despair that I carry all day and most of the night. My usual exuberant energy feels dampened, my sunny outlook is overshadowed by sadness and my heart literally feels heavy.
I read once that trauma can be characterized as splitting life into two parts: life before the occurrence and life after. I believe our world is experiencing one giant collective trauma that will forever divide our lives in two. There will undoubtedly be other traumas that come along and supersede this one, much like my parents’ generation defined life before the Great Depression and life after and then, life before World War II and life after. And on and on and on…I. Hate. It.
Are there lessons to be learned from this crisis? Good that will come from all the deaths, the risks on the part of first responders and others who face danger everyday delivering essential goods and services? Who knows? There are those who believe this is some sort of cosmic payback for our collective bad behavior and disrespect of each other and our planet. Some believe this is nature’s way of thinning the herd and cleansing our overpopulated world. Some even believe this is all a hoax perpetrated by one political party or the other, one government or another, this or that corporate giant. I have become distrustful of most of the information I hear or read. There are a few sources I rely on, but I’m often skeptical of even those.
So how does all of this stack up for me? I still don’t know. Every day is different. I’m working on finding some peace, but it’s a struggle. I dread leaving my house, but when I do, I feel a bit better. As for some sort of deeper meaning, I just can’t see it, but maybe in time I will. Maybe it’s all just a senseless tragedy with no explanation or meaning to be found. I do hope that I can learn to be more patient, more compassionate, more accepting of things I can’t control. Mostly I hope someday to again feel safe in the world.
About Barbara Dab
Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner. Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world. The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .
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