Emerging from the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Process

Author’s Note: Many different groups, faiths, and communities are asking these questions. I adapted this largely from program by Dr. Lissa Rankin, M.D.

Americans are emerging from the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Things are starting to open up. Some of us are excited about that, others are wait, I’m not ready, it’s scary. There’s a lot of change after a year full of a lot of change. The entire world went through it together.

We had a collective near-death experience. That’s the clearest way to put it. The entire pandemic was a collective experience and no one was left untouched by it whether you were the deepest introvert or the ever-suffering extrovert. Personality tendencies were not the only differences.

We are in different places of transition depending on where we are in the world. i.e. India which is not in recovery yet. We also had different privileges.  Did you get to shelter in place where you could be safe or were you on the front lines where you could not shelter in place?   Did you live in cramped conditions where it wasn’t very safe? At some point no matter your privilege, you will emerge – and it may be helpful to have a process.

I think one thing that has been lacking is a process to emerge from the pandemic. It’s not as simple as “we are fully open” and filling seats in restaraunt, shopping aisles in stores, and seats in houses of worship / faith. There is some expectation that people will simply come out – and in some cases they may – but without a process, they may continue to be wounded – on the inside.

So absent a process, I am taking myself through a process Dr. Lissa Rankin took a group of us through on Zoom and allowing you to join me. The process is answering a series of inquiries.  It’s important not just to answer these questions like a questionnaire but to truly feel, reflect, grieve, and ponder these.

Journal These Inquiries

What have you lost this year that you can’t ever get back?

I feel we as a world have collectively lost so many lives. I feel I have lost a sense of healthiness and sense of security. I look at people different and people look at me differently – especially when it comes to wearing a mask. And I don’t know that even when we are all unmasked that I can look at people – or that people will look at me the same. It’s hard to look at people when such division has happened. When the pandemic ends, the division still remains. We can all go unmasked and about our day but can we forget how those people were towards us – whether it was the masked person harassed by the non-masker or the non masker shamed by the masker. The pandemic subsides but the attitudes remain. Due to racial unrest I don’t know if I can be in the same room as some people and likewise there are some people who are probably not sure they can be in the same room as me – based on what we’ve seen each other write, post, or speak. Racial unrest settles but the attitudes remain. And of course the same applies to the political year we’ve had with the election, assault on the capital, and other events.

Consider… lost graduations… lost post graduation activities… relatives who died. Marriages. Sense of invulnerability. Loss of job and confidence. Lost time with family. Lost parent’s health. Death’s of several friends. Lost of friends to suicide. Loss of one’s health. Loss of friends to conspiracy theories.  There can be anger in there. We have the right to be angry this year. Loss of faith in half of Americans.

What did you lose that you might get back?  Maybe that you’re excited about?

As trivial as it sounds, I lost routine. I lost the places I used to sit and work out of, i.e. McDonalds, Coffee Shops, mall food courts, and other places. I lost stores that I enjoyed shopping that used to be open long hours 7 days a week that are not short hours 5 days a week. I lost what was a fairly portable and active lifestyle. I lost being carefree, sitting down nearly anywhere. Things will re-open which should put things back the way they were.

Consider…Hope for the future, in person family / experiences, going to the gym, financial stability, hugging my children, connection, the pub get togethers, in person soclail life, swimming, massage practice, concerts, sense of belonging, travel, faith in humanity, normalcy for children, ability to leave the house, singing in person, loving relationship with myself, rebuilding, live music, democracy, stop overthinking every action, not being scared the air is trying to kill me, unmasked faces and smiles, common sense, critical thinking, science, theater and film festivals, fear of Covid 19, compassion, science being respected, in person connections

How do you feel about getting back what you’ve lost temporarily?

I feel hopeful but cautiously optimistic. I feel like it can happen again – the very definition of trauma. In fact I feel traumatized on so many levels with all of this. So cautiously optimistic would be where I am at.

Consider…Just checking in – how do you feel? Temporary loss? Greatful, hopeful, full of faith, release, cautiously optimistic, still discouraged, weary, joyful, clarity, anxious, relief, scary to feel joy again – forboding joy – you can feel it or allowing yourself to feel good but allowing yourself to feel the other shoe’s going to drop? Is it okay to feel good? Resistance, tender, the horizon is clearer, Uncertain, Disoriented.

What did you lose that you don’t want back?

Forced socializing, the stress of feeling obligated to hug everyone in the south, social obligations, meet and greet moments, small talk.

Consider…2 hour commutes? The previous administration, no more commuting, traffic, tighter pants, primping, makeup, Trump, fast food, no more fascism and conspiracies in the mainstream, pressure, fear of going on Twitter to see what group will be attacked next, pressure to extroverted things as an introvert, too much on my schedule, Drinking alcohol to pass the time, impression management, unhealthy relationships, misaligned commitments, stress shopping, feeling overscheduled, forced socializing, people pleasing, too much time on my phone, overcommitting, the stressful feeling of having to be everywhere at the same time, my in-laws, noise, social obligations, self waxing, unexpected visitors, shopping in stores I love online, shaving, plucking….people…

What has been the unexpected blessing (of the past year)?

I was able to get to know one friend a lot better over the pandemic year.  They were not nearly as busy as they usually are. I had an entire year to get to know them better.

Consider…(In terms of a non profit we are often given what we want to do but not how to do it. This year could have given one the opportunity to work out the ’how’ was the example given)

Going forward: Now that you’ve examined everything, and you have a general sense of both loss and gain, recognize we are in a time of transition and give the transition to God. Be aware of what you can’t change or impact but in the process be aware of this transition state and give it to God.