Mourning and loss: our current crisis and the 5 stages of grief

I thought I would share my thoughts and observations of this moment in time, with the hope it can inspire, spark discussion or help enable some self-examination.

This moment in time is truly tough. It’s so hard when we have our perceived choices removed and we are all dealing with the impact of this, great or small, on our lives.

At Flexible Healing, we’ve had to put the practice on hold for a while, until we get the green light to start up again. It did take me a few days to make this happen. I knew that I had to, but it still felt like a difficult choice to make the call.

It never was about the hit I’m taking on my income. It was the fact I’d no longer be able to help people through my clinic, making people smile with my observations of the world and them, or see the community of my two Pilates classes. This purpose and community feel part of my identity, and I didn’t expect it to feel so painful to have to put this on indefinite hold. I feel at peace and whole in the world when I am treating and helping others.

Through my reflection I thought back to 1982, when I was working for Action for Children. I attended a 5-day workshop on ‘Mourning and Loss’, with David Pithers, at the time a leader in child development and healing.

As we sat in class, it was a relief to hear you could grieve over something that we have hoped for and never had, and that grief wasn’t just about tangible things. It made me think about the sadness I felt about my time in school and the fact I was never supported enough to achieve. Grief is something that is taken away, that could be choice, opportunity, or realising that you have never been believed in.

David Pithers went on to share the 5 stages of grief, now made more famous by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler.

However, these 5 stages have always stayed with me as a frame-work for many aspects of my life, giving deeper understanding to myself when challenges pop up.

Here are the 5 stages as I have lived through them over this last 2 weeks

DENIAL: I was defiant. I thought ‘it will pass quickly’, ‘it can’t be that bad’…whilst at the same time deeply knowing it was that bad.

ANGER: Everything was frustrating. I was really irritated by the news, the naysayers. Cross with myself because I knew it was best for me, my family and patients to close the practice. Cross with myself because I always like my ‘ducks in a row’. I need to know what the outcome will be and feel safe when I know something tough has an ending. But we don’t know when this will end.

BARGAINING: Yes, closing the practice is the right thing, because I am doing my bit to keep everyone safe. The practice will still be there when we can all move about again.

DEPRESSION: Well I would rather use the word sadness, its often how patients describe it more than depression.

I felt so sad closing the practice, it felt like this is such a strong part of who I am. It fills my days, I love making people feel better and smile, for 30 years, this is what I have done, through children and surgery. I was like I felt I was putting me on hold.

ACCEPTANCE: So here we are, I can’t change this, and right now I am at ease with each day with my routine, walking Eddie dog, Pilates for me for an hour, spending time with my lovely daughter. My husband (Steve) is working from home and it leads to several comedy moments, for example dashing into a room where the hoover had been on, waving his arms, exclaiming ‘cut cut’, as he has a meeting on the phone and can’t hear! Then reading and writing, reflecting on my practice, doing treatment plan reviews, early evening walks with Mr B and Eddie dog, catching up with friends. It has taken a few days for me to get to this place. I am however encouraged by this quote from Winnicott:

“The fact that grief takes so long to resolve is not a sign of inadequacy, but betokens depth of soul.” ~ Donald Woods Winnicott

I have accepted this is my new way of being for now, and I am at ease with that this is how things might be for a while. The smile is back and the heart is not feeling quite so heavy. I believe it’s healthy for mind, body and soul to work through and acknowledge sadness and loss. We’re all facing great challenges, but I truly believe time and thought can heal many things. Stay safe, stay home, keep moving in the small ways we can, and we’ll see you on the other side.

3 Replies to “Mourning and loss: our current crisis and the 5 stages of grief”

  1. Thank you for sharing this Sue. It’s good to know we are not alone coming to terms with this strange time.
    I think it will be a lumpy journey but thank goodness for our walks and OUR CLASS IS BACK. It’s gonna be fun getting to use new tech to attend. See you on Wednesday. 🙂

    1. Couldn’t agree more it is strange times and we have all needed adjustment.

      Thank you for verbalising the 5 stages – not even considered it in the circumstances – but it certainly helps put the feelings into perspective for the new now. It’s going to to be interesting but we will get out the other side of this and with help from each other smiling as well.

  2. Thankyou Sue
    For sharing
    It’s always uplifting to hear your views and words of wisdom gathered.
    Best wishes to all
    Lesley x

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