My dearest grandchildren,
These days, we all have plenty of time to reflect and see who we really are and what we actually need. The pandemic of coronavirus, which is already in your textbooks, I believe, made humanity think of various things and make a myriad of decisions. People proved to be absolutely unprepared for a new pandemic, although they have had several success stories concerning pandemics, as well as numerous stories of disgrace. The efforts of our governments to stop the pandemic made millions of people stop and think in isolation. The painting that has always fascinated me is now a symbol of the present situation, in my opinion (see Figure 1). I am writing this letter watching at the poster of this famous painting from time to time, which makes me feel the grief of the entire humanity or universal grief, as I would call it. I want to share some ideas regarding the situation and ways to cope with it. Unfortunately, you may need this knowledge as I believe this lesson will also remain unlearned.
First, I want to provide some background information concerning COVID-19 as I am afraid some data can be falsified, which is a norm nowadays. During 2019 and the first part of 2020, humanity witnessed an outbreak of a new infectious disease, which soon led to a pandemic that changed our lives dramatically. It came from China, but its origin is still unknown at the end of the spring of 2020. There are several theories regarding the matter, but many people think that the virus could be released from a laboratory accidentally, although no sound evidence is provided yet (Rincon, 2020). What was known is that the virus is highly transmittable and leads to the rapid growth of the infected. The primary measure governments undertook was quarantine that implied really serious restrictions on people’s liberties, which led to a major shift in people’s and countries’ lives.
The painting created in the nineteenth century depicts the isolation and terror of an average person in 2020 who happens to live in an industrialized country. The quarantine measures made people isolated, alienated, frightened, and disorganized. David Kessler, one of the most renowned experts on grief, believes that the current uncertainty is one of the central factors leading to people’s grief (Berinato, 2020). We are all at a loss that is hard to be estimated.
Some people are fearful of being infected or having an infected close one, while others have major concerns regarding their economic wellbeing that is becoming increasingly obscure. Geppert (2020) claims that restrictions are the only available solution that has been utilized, and humanity managed the epidemics of Ebola and H1N1 influenza. However, these limitations also lead to serious economic turmoil, and many doubt that they are adequate under the current conditions. Shah (2016) stated that fear and mass hysteria about some infections had always been the initial response to diverse pandemics. Business ties and supply chains are being destroyed or damaged dramatically. Entrepreneurs have no customers and no money to pay bills, while large companies also face significant challenges. People lose jobs and their hopes to live normal lives any time soon.
I am also uncomfortable with the idea of insecurity because I understood that the created social systems fail when such a problem emerges. For me and thousands of others, it is clear that systems that were thought to be effective have proved to be complete failures. Healthcare sectors in the majority of western countries revealed their low efficiency as thousands of people died and millions were infected. This is another portion of concerns that plagues people’s emotional state. Many understand that even such a comparatively manageable condition made the entire world stop. What if new Ebola or plague, or any other pandemic start? Now, some individuals, including me, are afraid of new infections that are likely to be more dangerous, making our systems less effective or even adequate. The fact that we still do not know exactly what the origins of this type of coronavirus are makes our fears more intense.
Life as we knew it ceased to exist as we are now being told that the pandemic is a new reality, and COVID-19 will make us change our lives for at least a year or two. I think life will never be the same again, which is already in the air. Eyre and Bates (2020) stress that people are mainly mourning the loss of their lifestyles, but they also have the capacity to overcome this kind of sorrow. I have more time due to the imposed restrictions, so I learned some strategies to cope with grief. I will try to share this information with you to make you more prepared to address similar issues, if or rather when they happen.
Kessler stated that the strategy to manage one’s grief is appropriate to relieve one’s grief during the COVID-19 pandemic (Berinato, 2020). The stages people go through when addressing grief are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. These stages may come in a different order, and their duration is very specific to each person’s situation. However, you should remember that it is natural to live through these steps and come to accept them as a healthy solution. You may start with denial, trying to reassure yourself that the situation will not affect you. You are likely to feel angry about the situation and the negative outcomes such as uncertainty, loss of lifestyle or even close ones, and so on. The next stage will be bargaining as you will try to accept the situation for some period while expecting some benefits. Of course, you will be sad that the situation causes inconveniences, uncertainty, and different kinds of loss. Finally, you will be able to accept the changes and adapt to the new environment.
In conclusion, I would like to note that I am now at the acceptance stage, and the poster of the Scream is a reminder of the horror I felt at the beginning of this journey. I still have a few answers to the questions mentioned above, but I am not afraid anymore. I know that my strength is in my resilience and my ability to think critically. You should also remember that you are never alone because your relatives, friends, and people around you are always there to help you. Be ready to accept this help and offer your assistance as well. Being helpful is a potent instrument to develop your way of coping with grief, as well as problems you may encounter. If you are now facing similar challenges and have to live through a pandemic, my letter will be of assistance. If you are happy to live a normal life, my letter will also be relevant, because it might help you avoid making similar mistakes. Be cautious and try to ensure your society’s safety by being reasonable and responsible.
- Berinato, S. (2020). That discomfort you’re feeling is grief. Harvard Business Review. Web.
- Eyre, J., & Bates, M. (2020). COVID-19 got you down? You’re actually mourning the loss of your lifestyle, and that’s OK. Daily Herald.
- Geppert, C. M. A. (2020). The return of the plague: A Primer on pandemic ethics. Federal Practitioner, 37(4), 158–159.
- Munch’s Scream visits MoMA. (n.d.). Museyon. Web.
- Shah, S. (2016). Pandemic: Tracking contagions, from cholera to Ebola and beyond. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.