A year ago today, my world as I knew it collapsed. In one day life as ‘normal’ was turned to uncertainty, grief, and no clear path. I found myself walking through a forest with no worn pathway through, only brush that needed clearing. As I forged ahead to walk the path unknown, branches would come and whack me at unknowing times. It has not been an easy road.
And yet here I am a year later. I have made it 1 year in my new reality.
Although the circumstances of COVID-19 are different, in many ways, this uncertainty (and day to day, sometimes minute by minute living) is very familiar. I have laughingly said “what’s one more thing” (knowing full well this is not a laughing matter but seeking comic relief). Yesterday I had a good cry when I heard my kids will be doing distance learning from March 30 – May 4 (with the possibility of this extending beyond that).
Forging the unknown is never easy, but it can be done.
As we stand in this moment in history, I feel oddly prepared, strangely conditioned for a life of uncertainty. I have had a year of training. I have a lot of thoughts right now, a lot of words about what it’s like when life as you know it falls to the ground, a lot of encouragement I want to give.
So today I want to share this with you:
You are brave.
In your ‘normal’ life acts of courage were not always immediately identifiable, but right now it is a daily requirement. It feels insurmountable, odd and hard. You can do hard things.
You may not know how you will manage this new reality, that is ok. Strength is forged, not mustered. Day by day you will take one step, and then another. This mountain will be a series of small steps, focus on the steps.
It is ok to ask for help. It is ok to say you can’t do it all. You will need to make adjustments. Strength does not mean doing it all by yourself, all the time.
Life as you know it has collapsed. I know you know this, but naming it helps. Name how you feel each day, it helps ground you. You don’t need to stay in the emotion, but name it, acknowledge it is there. It helps immensely.
In this time of uncertainty, you will have extraordinary experiences with people who care for you and seek to serve you, experiences you never would have had if life had been “normal”- cherish those experiences.
We need each other. Yes, it is incredibly challenging with social distancing. Find ways to connect and stay connected. Isolation makes this worse.
Your kids will have emotions. This will likely look like being extra clingy, meltdowns and behavior challenges. This is normal for what they are experiencing. Connection with them helps tremendously. Even 10 minutes of focused (undistracted) time with them each day will help them experience stability.
Whenever there is loss, there is grief. There are stages of grief. It is not a linear process. It is normal to feel opposing emotions, even minutes after each other. Be patient and kind with yourself and others.
It is ok if you are responding differently than someone else. There is no ‘right’ way through uncertainty and grief. Everyone responds differently.
Self-care is important. Take care of your physical and mental health. These are crucial.
This is an opportunity to define what truly matters in life and what is a priority. I have found operating out of priorities helps to identify what tasks are truly necessary. There will be a lot of letting go of what is not highest priority.
Some days will be really really hard. Some days will be easier. This is a day by day, sometimes minute by minute endeavor.
You will find a new normal
You will experience joy in new ways and new experiences, embrace these
Celebrate milestones big or small - it helps you to stand exactly where you are, to see where you have come from, to see the good amidst the difficulty
You will come out of this changed. You will be more connected with your family and community. You will gain new friends. You will understand in a deeper way you can do really hard things. You will innovate and find creativity you did not know was there.
You are not alone. We are in this together