March has always been a frustrating month here in Southern Ontario. Technically it’s still winter even though there are occasional days of warmth and sunshine. Every year we torture ourselves through March, dreaming about spring when winter isn’t done with us yet. It’s the same with covid. We all want to think about covid being over but as of this writing it isn’t done with us yet.
Like an unwelcome houseguest covid has taken over our lives. But unlike a houseguest, covid isn’t going to leave because we tell it to. We are left feeling powerless to get rid of it and powerless to move on while it’s here. We feel frustration, vulnerability and daily bouts of micro-grief each time we realize that yet another thing is not as we hoped it would be and not what we need.
Many of us were taught that frustration is a small and childish emotion. We were taught to ignore frustration whenever we could and were shamed for showing it when we couldn’t hide it. But frustration isn’t childish. No emotion is.
Emotions are indicators that something is going right or wrong, in our life. It’s our inner compass telling us that we’re moving closer to getting our needs met, or farther from it.
Covid has moved most of us farther from our connections, our usual routines and our sense of normalcy than we ever thought possible. It has disrupted life in ways we never imagined and that has left us feeling vulnerable.
Humans need a sense of normalcy in order to feel safe. We need to know that there are things we can count on, before we can rest. And we need to rest, in order to function.
To compensate for the onslaught of change and uncertainty that covid has created, we need to be kinder to ourselves than we usually are. We need to establish tiny routines of covid-normalcy inside the big chaos. If we don’t, then like lint collecting in our dryers, daily frustrations, disappointments and bits of micro-grief accumulate inside us until we reach flash-points where we lash out, or melt down.
Everyone has hopes and dreams, plans and schemes and covid has messed with everything. Whether you are a traveller pining for your usual March get-away, or a homebody who misses family and friends, we are all grieving the changes that covid has created.
Waiting is hard.
Frustration is real.
Dreams and plans give us hope.
Routines and touchstones give us a sense of calm that allows us to rest.
What will you do, to give yourself time and space to rest?
Written by Catherine Mitchell, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist serving the Durham Region