The New Normal: Grieving the Loss of the Old and Embracing the New
I often reflect back at the week in mid-March when COVID-19 began drastically changing our lives. At the time, my workplace estimated we would be closed for at least three weeks, but I expected it would be longer. At the time, the shift to working from home had the added benefits of removing my one hour+ of commute time and allowing me to spend more time with my cockapoo, Kendrick. At that time, I could not have imagined all of the ways the pandemic would also affect my personal life these past five months, including going four months without hugging my sister-in-law and mother-in-law, cancelling all planned travel to visit my family and friends, going 2+ months without our beloved park (where I go on “fast walks” and Kendrick plays), only seeing an intimate circle of people in person, and grieving the loss of date nights out with my husband. Trust me, I have multitudes of things to be grateful for during this pandemic, but it is also important to acknowledge what we have lost before we can embrace the present.
This topic came to me during one of my many new activities during the pandemic, Saturday morning yoga led by my best friend who is also in the field of psychology, Dr. Claire Noonan. Each yoga class has a theme, and this particular week, Claire and I had the shared experience of traveling (for the first time during the pandemic) via plane to visit our parents. Claire remarked on how the striking differences of traveling led her to reflect on our New Normal.
So, I thought I’d prompt you to journal on the following and I will do the same. First, what are you grieving? These could be aspects of the pre-pandemic world that you are impatiently waiting to have back. Second, what new aspects of life have you embraced?
Grieving the Loss of the Old: I grieve…
- Hugs, handshakes, and high fives
- Breathing in fresh air when in public
- Group gatherings and dinner parties
- Date nights out
- Live music
- Weekend trips with my best friends who live in other states
- In-person psychology conferences
- Passing a tissue to a friend or client who is tearful
Embracing the New: I embrace and cherish…
- More cuddles with my cockapoo
- Virtual Settlers of Catan board game nights with mine and my husband’s family
- My new work from home office
- More opportunities and time to cook new meals
- Weekend road trips in South Florida
- Virtual happy hours with my psychology colleagues
- Monthly peer consultation with OCD experts in Florida
- Playing scavenger hunts at the beginning of my telehealth sessions with child clients
- Saturday morning yoga
- Paddle boarding on the bay
My challenge for you is this. Let yourself grieve the loss of whatever has changed during the pandemic. Rather than impatiently waiting for something to re-open or everything to be as it once was, embrace new routines. Embrace what we are able to do in this very moment.