When I learned that school had been canceled due to the coronavirus, I was more than a little shocked. My default coping mode was to get busy and stay positive. I also knew that I had to move my body and spend time in nature each day.
Simultaneously, I became less diligent about my daily meditation practice. Unconsciously, I think that I knew that if I sat still for long, grief and despair would catch up with me. Anxiety mounted as I tried to stay busy, positive, and focused on service to others.
This past Saturday morning, I awoke at 5am, unable to fall back asleep. I decided to spend the next couple of hours journaling, meditating, and doing mindful yoga. The discomfort was immense. I had a strong urge to get on my computer and start DOING SOMETHING. But I disciplined myself to stay present until 7am.
An hour later while I was making breakfast for my children, I suddenly broke down sobbing. I was crying because I felt so much empathy for all of the people struggling. This situation is somewhat challenging for me, and I offered myself compassion for that. Additionally, I am aware that there are many, many others who are suffering in big and small ways: people who are living alone and completely isolated from human touch, people who don’t have enough savings to cover their bills, people that might not have enough money to buy food, and people who are dying from this virus.
My children came into the kitchen to check on me, and I told them that I was crying because this situation is sad. It is really, really sad. The three of us hugged one another and mourned together in the kitchen for a period of time. I cried for a bit more, and then I went back to making pancakes. I noticed that I felt markedly less anxious after my tears.
During this pandemic, I am reminded that in addition to practicing gratitude, noticing what is good and being of service to others, we also need to create space to acknowledge and hold ourselves while we grieve. This situation is incredibly sad, and it is healthy and natural to mourn during these times of collective pain and social distancing. We can remember that we are not alone in our distress. We can both grieve and rise together.