What can we learn as we experience turmoil, change, or as we grieve a loss? Is there something we can focus on to help us go through difficult times in our lives? This can be a minor occurrence in our life, or it can be what we have all lived through collectively during a global pandemic.
What can help us see what is beyond what we are experiencing now and let us see beyond pain, frustration, or anger? Is there something that can unite us to help us move forward as we adapt daily to our new normal? What commonality can we find with each other that can help us rebuild and continue onward?
Where do we find commonality?
Something that unites us all is loss.
We have all lost something.
It can be literally your sunglasses, your favorite earring, an identity as you move to be an empty nester, your extra pounds around your waistline or a loved one. In life, there is always loss, and we tend to associate and think of loss and grieving when someone dies, yet it is all around us.
In the process of going through a pandemic, we have lost a sense of normalcy, an appreciation of things we took for granted such as seeing people’s smile, shaking hands, being close together, or not having to disinfect your hands multiple times a day. Loss and grief have been discussed under the Kubler-Ross model initially intended for death and later adapted for grieving. Yet, we have all felt the nonlinear stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance during this pandemic.
Where should we place our focus?
What is so interesting is that when we focus on our loss and our grieving process, it almost feels as if there is no room to think about what we have gained.
Every loss has a gain; just like when there are deaths, there will be births in the world. It is the yin and the yang and the balance of life. It can always feel as if we are skewed in a certain side of the balance, but the equilibrium always comes.
When we lose anything, we tend to immerse ourselves in the grief so deeply that we lose appreciation of what we gain. We are likely gaining a new appreciation of things we had not paid attention to previously. We may be gaining a new identity after we shed our past one, or we are gaining a new body in our transformation during weight loss.
Transitions can be difficult because we are left in a limbo between the old and new version of this loss, and so it can feel as if we don’t have stable footing in the sand. Yet when we focus on what we have gained, it brings our awareness to the present moment, and it inspires us to see the possibilities of what the future can hold. It can propel us to dream of this new version of ourselves or of what our identity can create if we embrace it.
Loss, grieving, transitions, transformations, new identities have been a huge part of this pandemic. It has been a common thread that we have felt in one way or another. It is what can unite us as humans and allow us to understand how we are not islands, but we are all interconnected.
We do not have to suffer the same loss as our neighbor to understand the pain, the joy, or the transformation. We must just look at ourselves and see that we have all lost something. Bringing that to our awareness can help us have both with self-compassion and compassion for others.
How can we move forward?
Cultivating compassion for ourselves and others is a practice in which we release judgment, anger and heal our emotional wounds. We can then move forward to a version of a better world where we have evolved to a new beginning. Change is always happening, and that is our constant. What we focus on while it happens is what will determine how much we will suffer or thrive as we go through it.
So, as we emerge through this time, whether as a health care worker, a parent, a newlywed or whatever your role is, let us stay present in what we have gained and be hopeful of the world that we will create tomorrow.
Let us focus not on what seems to be an obvious loss or grieving process but one in which we can find introspection, wisdom, strength, and a new set of purpose. It is in this that we can evolve personally and as a collective. It is not easy.
There is a lot of discomfort in shedding our old self and grieving our collective loss. Yet if we do this with compassion, we can find comfort knowing hope is waiting for us on the other side.
Diana Londoño is a urologist and can be reached at her self-titled site, Dr. Diana Londono, on Twitter @DianaLondonoMD, and on her blog. She is one of the 10 percent of U.S. urologists who are women, and 0.5 percent who are Latina and female.
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