Who could have predicted that this is how we would start the new decade?
COVID is well on track to break every health crisis record for the last half-century (at least). It’s easy to get lost in the “tyranny of the moment,” as I’ve heard it called, and not be able to see through the smoke.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review caught up with David Kessler, a grief expert, to talk about the COVID crisis. Next to Kessler’s reminder of the five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness, Acceptance), and his reassurance that grief is a natural, non-linear process, he offered an underappreciated, but hopeful perspective:
“This is a temporary state.”
I remember during my graduate research being overwhelmed by a series of set-backs, one after another. At times I thought it would never end.
I was fortunate enough to be working with an Ontario farm family for my research project. Many days, I would come into their house from the field, discouraged, frustrated, skin irritated by corn leaves that also seemed to be set against my success. And then I would sit at the dinner table with this couple and hear of the set-backs they faced that day – broken manure spreader, planter not metering seed properly, fields too wet to start and the time-sensitive tasks piling up.
I remember thinking, ‘How do they do it? I mean, for me it’s just a 2-year research project; this is their livelihood! How do they manage to press on?’
I learned from them – though they never said it out loud – one of farming’s hopeful realities:
No season lasts forever.
The frenzy of planting and harvest time don’t last forever.
The anxiety brought on by summer droughts and flooded fields doesn’t last forever.
Storms pass and the sun rises.
And once we Accept the “temporary state” we’re in, we can move onto what Kessler likes to call the sixth stage of grief: Meaning. Post-traumatic growth.
I hope you feel permission to experience the grief of this season, on your time and terms, and to welcome the growth that’s waiting in the wings.
Outreach and Communications Coordinator