What You’re Feeling is Grief

60815764515__C2B82688-53CC-4A0E-AC79-85E815828994I had an early morning meeting this weekend with a colleague at a data collection firm we’ve been working with. He said he was taking next week off and was headed to Costa del Couch. We all laughed, but I noted internally that I’ve had conversations with several colleagues this week about taking time off or leave during these weird times–from childcare or our jobs or searching for jobs–and while it may seem counterintuitive to take a break when we can’t escape the way we normally do, I wanted to share with the world that it’s really important to take time away right now.

I was talking with a psychologist friend recently about pulling our pneumonia survey and delaying our Nigeria intervention and my concerns about our partners and staff and he stopped me and said, “Erin, are you talking to anyone about this?” He went on to say, “what you’re feeling is grief.”

It struck me in that moment that while I have been saying for many weeks now that our world will not be the same after this, saying it is not the same as feeling it and acknowledging it. We’re all experiencing huge changes in the way we’re able to live our lives right now. With or without family, with or without friends, all of us without our normal level of travel and cultural and personal connections and sense of purpose that comes with our work, a decreased ability to do work, a decreased ability to support our partners and staff in other countries, a need to engage more deeply with being alone or being intimately with a small group of people, and sometimes both. There’s a good chance we might not be able to travel internationally again this year. There’s a good chance we may see our offices and friends for only a few weeks at a time before having to go back to lockdown again and again. Our favorite restaurants and gyms and daycares and museums are closed and some may never re-open. There’s a good chance that by the time you read this, our projections of what the next few weeks or months will look like will change dramatically (now my standard COVID caveat).

I want to acknowledge that there is a profound loss associated with all of these changes, and it’s perfectly okay to feel that, however you’re experiencing it.

To anyone who is struggling to articulate their feelings these days, anyone who is feeling particularly agitated or lethargic or sad or frustrated or confused (I really think I covered the gamut here), it’s worth reading the following article in Harvard Business Review. I found it helpful to have someone tease out the contours of grief during these weird times and as encouragement to take a step back and a break, where possible. I would encourage everyone to take some time to feel things right now, because we are indeed grieving, even if we haven’t lost anyone to this disease yet—though some of us are experiencing that, too.

And with that, wishing everyone a Chag Sameach, Happy Easter, or good rest tonight and this weekend. Sending all the comfort and hugs I can muster across the interwebs. Please do reach out if there’s anything I can do for you.


Author: ekfletch

I am an independent researcher on issues of gender, labor, violence, education, and children.

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