For days, a cloud of malaise has settled around me, draining my energy, blocking my spirit. Something I couldn’t name. Today it came to me. This is grief.
I used to think that grief was reserved for loss of a loved one or other catastrophic events; other lesser losses being relegated to the “stiff upper lip” category. But over time, I have learned that grief is a natural and necessary response to and eventually, balm for any loss.
2020 has been a year of losses, relentlessly compounding like interest on a gambling debt. At first COVID-19 was an exotic virus in a faraway village, no more than a footnote on the nightly news. And slowly, cases in other countries surfaced, but still, not here. And the first few cases close to home seemed to be an oddity that surely would pass. But slowly, insidiously, cases grew into thousands, deaths hit triple digits. ICU wards were overcrowded, undertakers overwhelmed. Even the most skeptical among us had to agree, this was something new, something terrible. We had not been here before and did not know what to do
The economy ground to a crawl as quarantines were imposed. Jobs were lost, families devastated. Schools and churches closed their doors, sports and entertainment events were postponed. And behind the scenes, menacing storms were brewing in the Atlantic which would soon roar ashore, leaving a swath of destruction from the gulf to the eastern seaboard.
Long simmering just below the surface, painful race riots erupted, further dividing us at the precise time we were in most need of unity. And waiting in the wings, devastating fires would soon ravage the west coast. Now diminished, exhausted, and divided, we limp into what will likely be the most highly charged political season since the Civil War.
No wonder I am exhausted, depleted, and drained. We all are.
Grieving will not make the virus disappear, repair the economy, rebuild communities ravaged by fire and flood, or reunite friends and family alienated by social discord.
But still, I need to name the pain, feel it, rage at it, and finally accept it. Grief must have its day if I hope to meet the challenges of the new reality. That familiar world of months ago is not coming back.