A Startling Pandemic and The 5 Stages of Grief

A Startling Pandemic and The 5 Stages of Grief

I am so, SO experiencing the 5 Stages of Grief during this…startling pandemic. Startling. Yes, that’s a good word. I was startled in the beginning and continue to be each day.

I don’t know about you, but this whole thing has knocked me off my game. You see, I was already grieving the loss of my two cats. They died recently, a month apart. I’ve not lived without a kitty since 1989. It’s been very hard, and the only way I can describe how I’m doing is with the word “grief”.

Grieving. Grief sucks is something I’ve been saying since Christmas Eve. I hate to say it, but what I’ve been going through is worse than when my parents died. Max was 16, Cleo 14, and that’s a long relationship. They were my kids in a way.

Now, this. The world experiencing this pandemic thing. So much, so fast, and my reaction is grief. Here we go again (or maybe it’s just piled on?)

Learning a New Vocabulary

I had to google pandemic. I’ve heard the term and sorta knew the general idea of it, but I needed to clearly understand the implications. I knew it is bad, but what exactly was it, and how is it different from an epidemic?

According to Wikipedia, “a pandemic is a disease epidemic that has spread across a large region, for instance, multiple continents, or worldwide.”

Wow. I had to really let that sink in. Worldwide. That’s where we are. The realization that it was real and happening was overwhelming.

Social Distancing. There’s a phrase I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d hear. Now it’s something I say multiple times a day. I also get pissed when people don’t do it!

I’m an introvert by nature, so I’ve always enjoyed a good 3-feet of personal space. 6-feet? I’m good with that on a normal day.

The name of this awful thing. I won’t say it out loud (or write it) for fear of giving it power. Lord knows it needs less power. I’ll never look at Corona beer the same way.

New Normal is a phrase I’ve seen a lot. I go back to not liking change. I sure as heck don’t like figuring out a new normal.

Grief. The 5 Stages of Grief. Something I’ve thought about a lot lately, but never in this way. I realize, it totally applies to what I’m feeling. And I’ve got a lot of feelings.

The 5 Stages of Grief

I am currently working my through the 5 Stages of Grief. Grief for what has happened, for what we’ve lost. Disbelief that only a week ago we were watching this thing take shape. Fear of the unknown and how it will change our lives and our world. Pandemic. Man I hate that word.

The 5 Stages of Grief are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I have been all over the board this week. Let’s break it down, shall we?.

The 5 Stages of Grief during a pandemic

Denial

The first of the 5 levels of grief. “No way something like what’s happening in China will happen here.” I actually spoke those words. Then I saw what was happening in Italy. Still no way. Nope.

I was in a staff meeting on Sunday where we talked about how we would keep our space clean and disinfected. That will be good! On Monday, we started out well. By the end of the day? Everything had changed. I went from “This will be an inconvenience,” to “Holy Crap, sh*t’s getting real!”

I still held out hope that this wouldn’t impact me. Oh, how silly was I? By Friday, I was having an anxiety attack so bad that I feared I was having a heart attack. Or I had IT. Shortness of breath, chest discomfort, sore throat. Yup, I made myself sick. I bet you didn’t know I’m a hypochondriac!

Anger

The second of the 5 levels of grief. Boy have I been angry. I’m just pissed off about the whole thing. How did it get this far? Why did no one nip it?

I’ve seen so many people disregarding the warnings. Stepping into personal space, not washing hands, not disinfecting properly. I used the keypad at the grocery store and about passed out when I realized it probably hadn’t been sanitized.

I saw a line of kids/young adults outside a gaming place a few days ago. Yay for the place for only allowing a few in at a time. Boo for the kids who were nowhere close to 6-feet apart.

I got really angry with the Spring Break crowd. I happen to live in the county where the video went viral. It was embarrassing. I hope the world knows that they were not locals, and the locals were not pleased!

I’m angry that those kids will go home and spread this thing. I’m angry at officials who didn’t act quickly enough, that this is so damn political, and that we don’t have what we need to test properly.

Anger is the only way I can describe my feeling about the “panic buying” that is taking place. Why does someone need hundreds of rolls of toilet paper? All the frozen food you can fit in a cart? Where are they getting the money to pay for it all? What about the rest of us who haven’t lost our minds?

How did it get this far?

Bargaining

The third of the 5 levels of grief. Ya, I’m not there yet. I’m not even sure how the bargaining thing works…other than trading a roll of toilet paper for some tamales. Yup, I know someone who had a friend in need who offered tamales in exchange. Mmmm. Homemade tamales! My kind of bargain.

Depression

I’ve got this one down good. I hurt a friend’s feelings when I asked for no more updates. She totally meant well. I had just hit my saturation point. I cried for a day, sad about what I feel like we’ve lost. Scared to death of what will become of me. Ya, that sounds selfish, but I doubt I’m the only one thinking that.

I’m a single girl. No hubster, no kids, and not even any kitties anymore. It’s been a rough start to 2020, and now this. You bet I’m depressed. I’ve decided on a break from all the information out there. I’m paying attention to the latest info so I’m informed. I can’t watch or read one more heart-wrenching story or listen to some jerk who thinks they know it all.

And I’m so, so sorry I hurt my friend. She has the biggest heart and is nothing but a sweet, good, and kind soul.

Acceptance

The last of the 5 levels of grief. I’m not sure I’ll ever accept what’s going on. Life as we know it has been altered. The world has gone mad, people are hoarding toilet paper and ground beef, and nothing makes sense.

I’m not good with change. I’m really not good with bad change. This is a bad change. I truly hope that the world learns a lesson from this and that we become a kinder society.

The 5 Levels of Grief Sucks

In case anyone is wondering, I am not a pandemic fan. I really can’t wrap my head around how the numbers jump so dramatically each day. I mean, I know they do, and it’s SO real, but dang!

I guess the good news is that without this pandemic madness, we wouldn’t know how many empty hospital beds there are, how few tests there actually are, and how some folks really rally to help their fellow humans. It’s the rallying that I’m clinging to right now.

I’ve spoken to a number of people this week. Everyone is at their own level, so to speak. It’s a crazy time. That’s all I can really say. I don’t know what will happen or how we will land when all is said and done. For now, we just keep swimming. (Fun fact, I’ve never actually seen that movie!)

This is a time to be kind to others. Be kind to ourselves. Practice self-care whenever we can. It’s important for our peace of mind. It’s important for us to be of service to others.

Why does why self-care matter? Find out here.

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Penny, blogger at www.flipflopsandsensibleshoes.com, signature

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