What this (Grief?) has Felt Like

Weird times, am I right?

As we all have experienced the past 6-8 weeks, there have been shaky moments, sad moments, elated and joyful moments, and yes, annoying moments with all their frustrations. Cue: cooking (ugh, again), trying to muster up motivation to actually move my ass outside, and yeah, not being able to bring my dog to the vet for a nail clipping because it’s just not essential.

I was hit hard in the face with denial at first. This isn’t so bad, I thought. This won’t last too long, I thought again. There is no way this will be an ongoing disruption in my life, I’ll get back into the swing of things in no time. 

Oops. In the words of the great Willy Wonka: Strike that. Reverse it.

I found myself the first few weeks of this stay-at-home order on my couch, scrolling Instagram feeds, sipping small glasses of red wine that sneakily added up, and draped with the (somehow comforting) cloudiness of a gray, unshakable sadness. Even my pajama bottoms were beginning to look and feel quite sad.

The days rolled together. Now, as I graciously look back, I realize I was experiencing what’s known as anticipatory grief AND ambiguous grief. I was bracing myself for what may be lost next and in those moments on the couch I was unsure of exactly what was already lost. 

Now I know a little better how to define the ambiguous losses I was grieving.

I lost my face time with my community at my gym: their presence when I needed to connect and their presence when I needed to sink into a sweat session and not say a word — and that simply be okay.

I lost the identity I was cultivating in my new workplace and the ability to be physically seen, known, and recognized by my colleagues.

I lost my freedom to get on a plane or hop into a car and take off on a weekend adventure to another state.

I lost my running buddy when she moved back home to her own state and family.

I lost in-person poetry readings and popping into a bar to watch live music.

I lost the impromptu dates with dear friends to catch up in person and share our energies over a bottle of wine or delicious apps.

I lost the ability to tell my friends that I just wasn’t feeling an outing and needed to sink into the couch after being out of the house all week for work.

I lost going to my favorite date night spot with my partner to play Scrabble or Battleship or a mean round of Scattergories, depending on our mood.

I lost spontaneity.

And in those moments of ambiguous grief, my anticipatory grief would surface. I wont be able to run the marathon, so will this training even be important? Will my parents be okay in all this? How can I make my commencement from grad school somehow normal? What will be the point of writing poetry or creating in general?

And then. Something beautiful has happened this past week. 

I stopped fighting this, whatever this is.

I stopped viewing the world as paused and I began to open my eyes to the ever-pressed play button. The world had not stopped. Life was not on it’s way to resuming back to the starting point from where I THOUGHT we pressed the pause button. Instead, life was continuing to happen, to trickle around us, day by day. It was up to me, to us, to redefine what that meant.

It was up to me — to all of us perhaps — to find gentle acceptance and meaning.

I cannot speak for your experience. Though, I am curious about it and I sink into a deep wondering what others are going through, mentally and emotionally and realistically with their environments and situations.

But, my own experience is what I know.

My own experience has taken me by the hand and led me to the grassy field of acceptance. There’s so much room here. Space to explore, to breath, to spin about round and round until everything gets blurred and the only way out of that blur is to fall to the ground laughing, locking eyes with our playmates, and then sending our joy toward a sky sprinkled with clouds.

This world continues to spin, too. Round and round. And I choose to collapse right into it’s spaciousness and laugh and ask, What’s next?

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