Christina Dalton

Photo courtesy of Christina Dalton

Change creates avenues for growth and coping skills.

For many of us, the coronavirus has introduced us to experiences and life lessons like no other crisis in our lives. How we function in our new normal of sheltering in place has created challenges and a reality of who we are as individuals — the strength and resilience that help us survive each day.

At six weeks into the lock-down mentality, Groundhog Day has come upon us. As if we turned into Bill Murray, each day has dawned as a repeat of the day before. We wake up. We may rush to the grocery store. We may do some needed chores around the house. We keep in mind social distancing, which barricades socializing at the grocery store, visiting with our neighbors, hanging out with the friends or maybe even going out to lunch or dinner — activities of the past. It has become hard to separate Monday from Friday or Saturday from Wednesday. If you are a churchgoer, not even Sunday feels separate from any other day. Thus the eternal Groundhog Day. (I am assuming you did change out of your pajamas).

In my life coaching sessions with my clients, what has become the most prevalent is that feeling of loss — that feeling of depression. What you are experiencing is grief. We feel that the world has changed and we are no longer in control. We know it is temporary, but what will our future world look like? Will we be forever changed just as 9/11 created inconveniences in flying?

With each day blending like a nonstop carousel, it is important that we identify and name this feeling of loss so that we can manage it. We are in grief. We are in grief for our lost traditions and the common day we all took for granted. We mourn our loss of our social self, and we are angry that we did nothing wrong but somehow are being punished and being put on “ time out.” We also mourn those who have succumbed to the grips of this virus.

David Kessler, the world’s renowned expert on grief and co-writer with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross on the book, “On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss,” added a sixth stage of grief. In such human violations as 9/11 and the limits to our life caused by the coronavirus, we are grieving the loss of normalcy, the fear of economic uncertainty and our loss of connection.

Kessler connects the grief from COVID-19 to anticipatory grief — the future is uncertain. Typically, we experience this when a loved one is diagnosed with a fatal disease or a child is aware of their parents’ eminent divorce. There is something out there, and we feel that loss of safety.

Once we have recognized and defined our feelings of grief, a life coach can partner to manage the stages of grief. From the feeling of denial and disbelief of the realities of the virus to bargaining that this will only be a couple of weeks to sadness of our loss, recognition of acceptance becomes a goal. This is an opportunity for growth and movement toward a recognition of your own personal strengths.

There will be a new tomorrow. In the meantime, reward yourself by catching up with a longtime friend via Zoom or phone, picking up the book you put aside and giving yourself permission to enjoy the things you gave up because your life was too busy. Opportunities for family time, trying out new recipes and pulling out the old board games are all healthy possibilities. After all, we all deserve it.

Christina Dalton has recently retired from being the lead counselor at Heritage High School. Previously, she served as the math department chair at Liberty High School and was a member of the lead team to open Deer Valley High. Prior to her educational career, she was a marriage and family counselor. She brings these opportunities into empowering her clients through life coaching. She is the owner of Expanding Your Horizons - (Coaching for Life). She can be reached at: calberkgirl65@yahoo.com.

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