Flexibility in Times of Crisis: Facing Loss

The pandemic has caused a major impact in our world and in our lives, causing many of us to to struggle with the specter of facing loss.   This article is an excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book that I have written, Flexibility in Times of Crisis. It is meant to provide helpful strategies in coping with the different scenarios and challenges that we face through these changes.   The stories are endless and rich in heroism, feelings of loss, frustration and being able to have a newfound understanding. 

I am sure that you have your own story to tell as you have faced profound changes in the last months.

The one thing I know is that as humans, we are resilient and adapt to circumstances. This is one of our survival traits.

The purpose of this article is to learn to cope successfully and to grow from this experience through having a greater understanding in dealing with loss. Understanding the concept of loss and transformation will help shed light on what we are going through, learn how to accept it and transform from it.

According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross; The stages of loss are follows:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Negotiation
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
  6. Transformation (This one is recently added to the steps)

Denial. In the beginning of the pandemic, we were faced with a sense of disbelief. How could parks be closed? Our familiar Starbucks was dark, not a soul, playgrounds were silent and empty, an eerie feeling, almost as if we were in the middle of a science fiction movie. Many of us reacted as it seemed “unreal.”  A lot of us were in the state of shock.  In this stage, we are processing what is happening and very slowly hesitantly absorbing the reality.

Anger. Now the reality has hit us and we are upset. How could this be happening to me with all the plans that I have and now I can’t carry them through?  This is unfair! How could this not have been stopped? This is a financial catastrophe. I can’t stand it. I am so upset! Someone is to blame!!!

Negotiation/Bargaining. We desire to bargain. It is a way to see if we can avert the reality of what is happening. How could I still do business as usual and not lose a penny? I will find a way, no matter what I need to do, there is no other option. This is unacceptable, there must be a way to solve this.

Depression. It is a sense of depression/sadness. We are processing the reality. I am so sad that this is happening. I cannot accept this. How can I go through this, it seems so hopeless? I can’t even see my family; I feel so alone. This is so stressful, how are we going to live like this day after day? I feel like crying.

Acceptance. I will work with these new limitations and I’ll just have to make lemonade from these lemons. I don’t like it but I cannot control the uncontrollable.

Transformation: I now see this situation as offering an opportunity to grow as a human being. I have more time and can use it to learn something new. I can develop more internal alternatives to be entertained. I can work on my spiritual life. I can do something I had no time to do before. I will start writing more! By knowing these stages, it can help us cope with understanding our moods and thoughts when we experience loss. It gives us a sense of normality, we are not alone, many of us are going through a process of some type of loss. Mind you, these steps are not necessarily linear but they provide an idea of what we face in the midst of a change of the magnitude which we are living. How is this a loss? We have lost lives, socialization, physical contact, financial resources, freedom to walk without minding social distance, to go wherever we please, to be able to gather in big groups, to be able to go to a nice restaurant. Certain losses may be greater than others and we need to be understanding and kind to ourselves and others. We need to be able to not be embarrassed to seek emotional support or help. We need to find new healthy ways to comfort ourselves   The best part is that we may be able to use this as an opportunity for a transformation to a Better Self!