It all happened so fast. With each new announcement of the government shutdown roll-out, we scrambled to reset our lives. There was no time to think about what it all meant. We had kids to homeschool, jobs to do remotely, and older loved ones to FaceTime. We continued to ignore the sinking feeling that this was a life-altering event that was becoming less and less temporary as we kept things moving. Because that’s what parents do. Even as we canceled parties, soccer games and dance competitions and told our kids that they couldn’t see their grandparents and cousins for Easter, we kept it moving.
But with all of this moving, I realize that I have missed out on the chance to dwell in this moment and see it for what it is. Life will never be the same. Whether good or bad, that is something that should be grieved for and dealt with properly. If this was any other grief-worthy event in my life, I would have spent a decent amount of time wallowing in my misery, leaning on friends and family for comfort, and taking other necessary steps to move on to the healing phase. But how does a person grieve when they are not allowed the time and human interaction to do so?
Every moment of my day is filled with homeschooling, refereeing, and feeding my children while attempting to appear as productive working from home as I was in the office. My husband and I joke that we are busier now than before everything was canceled. It’s been like this since the moment they closed the schools. I guess the two hour period between my kids’ bedtime and mine could be used for something other than watching Tiger King in a state of amused horror or staring at the latest Coronavirus charts in a state of horrified horror, but I am paralyzed in my unresolved grief. And without being able to live in each stage of grief, I randomly bounce from stage to stage like a pinball.
Shock and Denial
Is this really happening? It’s just a few cases. They can’t really shut down the entire world. Oh, this isn’t so bad. Look at all this extra time I get to spend with my kids and husband. It will be over before we know it, and things will go back to normal. Right? Right!?!
Pain and Guilt
I miss my friends and extended family so much. My daughters worked so hard on their recital dances and will probably never get to perform them. I feel so guilty for wishing away my busy life. I can’t believe I’m feeling sorry for myself. So many people are suffering.
Anger and Bargaining
I hate having to be everything for my kids. I’m so frustrated. They won’t listen to me. I have absolutely no time to myself. I will never complain about any school events or extracurricular activities again. Just bring back my old life!
Sadness and Loneliness
This is our life now. Things will never be the same. I just want 24 hours to hide in my room and cry, but that’s impossible with three kids to care for. How do I feel so lonely when I am technically never alone?
Every day, I am bombarded with the emotions that come from each of these stages of grief. They pop up suddenly and randomly throughout my day, constantly reminding me that I am not okay. The only comfort I have in this sad and confusing time is that my kids are young (5 and 7). This event will be a blip on their radar, a fuzzy period of their life where they got to stay home and be with their family all day. So, I’ll put on a happy and calm face for them so that it remains just that and hope that all of these random moments of grief eventually bring me the peace and acceptance I need.