The Loss of Normalcy
Apr 15 1:14 PM

The Loss of Normalcy

Apr 15 1:14 PM
Apr 15 1:14 PM

It doesn’t take long in quarantine for us to take a long hard look at the walls of our homes and go, “when can I get out of here?” Claustrophobia may start to set in as our normal ways of life have been taken away. For many of us, those routines and resources haven’t been replaced with certain concrete paths but rather questions, and this is actually called ambiguous loss.

These losses leave the mind spinning in “what if’s,” “maybe one-day’s,” and all sorts of questions that can’t be answered because closure seems impossible to find. It’s grief with no real way forward. When this happens, it tends to complicate our experience of grief and sometimes prolong us from working through the grief.

Let me describe some of the questions that may be circling in our minds in our current COVID-19 reality.

  • The Loss of Normalcy. “What am I going to do all day?” or “How are we going to survive or be anywhere in the realm of productive in the house all together?”
  • The Loss of a Sense of Safety. “When will it be safe to go to…the park, the grocery store, shopping areas, a movie theatre, or even a restaurant?” “How am I going to provide for myself or my family?”
  • The Loss of Celebration. “Will I get to have a graduation?” “When will my family be able to get together again to celebrate….birthday’s, anniversaries, family historical moments, births, and even deaths?” All of these have become moments lost in COVID-19 time.

So, how can we respond to these losses? What can we do to work through them? Here are some tips for you to consider:

  1. Acknowledge This IS In pain and discomfort we often want to just move past it, but this avoidance is as dangerous to our emotional health as a driver running a stop sign. Instead, we can work to practice the art of acknowledgment by “[Being] still and {knowing} that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). Here, allow yourself to name each of your losses, letting them each take their turn. The feelings that you have and your experiences are important to God, so much so that he invites you to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Our anxiety tends to dissipate and calm down under His kind, compassionate eyes. Though we can’t change our normalcy to what it once was at this time, in the stillness of acknowledgement of the pain in light of God, our grief starts to move to a good rhythm instead of feeling cluttered, lost or trapped in time.

  2. Practice Self-Compassion. Self-compassion is the essence of grace and the practice of letting grace transform your life. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weaknesses.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” With whatever you are facing today, His grace towards you is a gift that can even transform our perspective and disposition towards ourselves. He encourages us to, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”(Colossians 3:12). Clothe your mind like you would your body, with thoughts filled with grace, such as:
  • “You are doing the best you can in an incredibly challenging time that was outside your control.”
  • “It’s ok to pause and mourn the loss of a sense of normalcy, and actually it will do my body some good if I can pause and acknowledge before moving on.”

Another member of our counseling team wrote a wonderful blog on self-compassion that I would highly recommend you check out for more information. 

  1. Take Hold of our Spiritual Strength. With any of these types of ambiguous losses, one coping skill that research has proven helps calm the waves of uncertainty is found in our faith and spiritual values. Pillars such as Psalm 46: 1God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” deepens our faith during difficult times. Faith has a way of serving our souls like a shelter in the midst of a raging storm. Though we may not have all the answers to our questions, at least right now, faith offers us an unchanging resource to tap into with powerful messages such as:
  • You are not alone—"The Lordyour God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph 3:17).
  • God sees me, loves me, and is with me even when these things are happening to me"But those who hope in the Lordwill renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
  • God can even use this hardship to shape me in positive, transformational ways—"For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

All of those messages bring us a sense of comfort when we are faced with adversity and uncertainty. It is there that you can find security in something higher than medical supplies or aisles filled with food. It is there that you can make meaningful routines that keep you grounded and taking things one day at a time, surrendering the things we can’t control and taking ownership where we can.

  1. Find A Way to Celebrate What Was Lost
    We have all lost some sort of celebration during this time, and we can encourage one another as well as deepen and strengthen our relationships with one by finding ways to make up for what was lost. Scripture calls us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). One way you can do that is by creating some “Redo’s” for post-quarantine life. This will not only help us identify what we are experiencing, but it will give us something to dream about, look forward to, and create. One of our team members, Amanda Tipps, gave parents some great ideas to do this in her blog.

Extra Resources

Tips on grounding yourself in uncertainty, check out Sarah Walters, LPC blog  

How to Manage Your Mental Health during the COVID-19 Season, Staci Reichmanis, LPC blog.

For more information on Grief, check out this website: https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.grief.html

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