COVID-19 Gives Us Grief Dealing with Ambiguous Losses - theHumm May 2020
COVID-19 Gives Us Grief Dealing with Ambiguous Losses - theHumm May 2020
By Barbara Carroll
As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic we face multiple losses and experience the range of emotions of grief: anxiety, fear, sadness, despair, anger, loneliness, disappointment, hopelessness and regret. We each have our own losses, and we have all lost things such as peace of mind, freedom, independence, control over much of our lives, physical contact and a sense of safety. Well, we can say, COVID-19 is temporary and when it is over life will return to normal. That may be, but we are not there yet, and in the meantime it can help to acknowledge and understand the grief we are feeling.
Our losses are ambiguous. We don’t know when and how the self-isolation restrictions will be lifted and we don’t know if some of our losses will become permanent. Some of us will lose our jobs and/or businesses, but we don’t know if and/or when that will occur. For now, we are living with ambiguous grief, a type of grief that is characterized by high levels of uncertainty and anxiety. It is the type of grief that happens when a loved one goes missing and it is not known whether they are dead or alive.
How do we cope with ambiguous grief? The anxiety of this type of grief is very uncomfortable to live with and our tendency is to try to reduce it. One way to do this is to go to extremes. If a loved one is missing, we can reduce anxiety by believing the person is alive, or even that the person is dead. In our COVID-19 reality we can reduce anxiety by believing that the threat is not real, not great, or that it won’t happen to us. If we believe only this, we end up on a crowded beach in Florida and the common good is not served. We can go to the other extreme and believe that we are never going to recover, and our losses are permanent. Our uncertainty is lowered, and if we can think of someone to blame, our anxiety is lowered as well. We then become discouraged and our mental health is at risk. Either way, going to extremes is not a helpful strategy. To be responsible citizens and take care of our mental health we need to find ways of living in the middle ground, where our anxiety is high. At the moment, a level of anxiety is good — it keeps us vigilant and safe.
How to Cope?
Some ways in which we can cope with the grief of COVID-19 include:
Reduce anxiety using well-known techniques such as breathing or meditation. Any repetitive activity like walking, knitting, painting, chopping wood or raking leaves will also help.
Pay attention to what causes our anxiety spikes. This will inform us of anything we can do to avoid the spikes, such as not going to the grocery store and ordering groceries online. At the very least by paying attention we will learn when the spikes will subside.
Don’t think too far ahead. The truth is we don’t know the future at this time. Try to let it unfold as it does. One step at a time.
Determine what is within our control and focus on that. We can’t control how this virus is going to play out, but we have some control over much of our lives within our homes and over how we react to all that is going on.
Accept that we are grieving — which means we will have bad days when we don’t feel motivated to do anything, and good days when we think we are coping well. Our emotions will hit us unpredictably and we may feel overwhelmed and out of control at times. These waves will flow in and out. In a hard day, know a better day is coming. In a good day, embrace it fully, knowing our bodies are helping us brace for the next wave.
Structure the days — and do it the night before. We are more motivated to get out of bed if we have an idea of what we are going to do that day.
Use distractions from the feelings of grief to avoid being overwhelmed. Actively seek out things to laugh at, phone a friend, FaceTime with family, cook a nice meal, read a good book, watch an engrossing Netflix program; whatever works for each of us.
Employ creative problem solving to stay connected — as we do when we have the family Easter dinner over Zoom, play bridge online, run online contests for our friends or organize virtual scavenger hunts.
Each day generate three things that went well, that we are grateful for.
Beyond these strategies, we can try to find meaning in what we are going through. We can reflect on our experiences and on what we see going on in the world. We can pay attention to transformations we see happening in ourselves — changes in beliefs, attitudes and priorities. We have the time to think about what we want our lives to be like, what our priorities will be, and what we value in our communities and country. If we do that, growth will happen. We will emerge from this, not to where we were before, but to somewhere that is richer, fuller, and, hopefully, more compassionate and understanding. We will be wiser as individuals, as communities and as societies. The payoff for sitting with grief and high levels of anxiety at the moment is the possibility of a better future. Now is our time to dream. When this is over it will be time to work together to find ways to make those dreams realities.
— Barbara Carroll is a Grief and Bereavement Specialist
The Return of the Victory Garden: an Interview with Ed Lawrence - theHumm May 2020
theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts in these challenging times. Today’s subject is Ed Lawrence, CBC Radio’s gardening guru. We emailed Ed to find out what he’s been up to, and what advice he has for novice gardeners who may want to try their hand at growing their own veggies this year.
theHumm: I imagine you have had fewer speaking engagements than usual this spring — what ha......
Poplar - theHumm May 2020
By Susie Osler
A Poplar round supports my weight. Its dying body lies here, sprawling in pieces around me. Rings of honey-coloured carbon circle in around dark, decaying heartwood that Woodpeckers have already begun to investigate in search of larvae. We sit here together, Poplar and I, on the tenuous, thin layer of unfolding life that is happening between our bodies and the eons of sand lying beneath us.
An accumulation of debris has fallen over decades — an offering to the Earth from the sanctuary of other Po......
The Great Veggie Grow-Off is a GO! - theHumm May 2020
The Great Veggie Grow-Off, a project of the Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardens, is an annual challenge between the nine communities of Lanark County and Smiths Falls to engage more citizens in growing healthy local food at home or in community garden beds — all with an eye to bolstering healthy food donations to our local food banks. This friendly challenge pits encourages communities to see which can grow the most food to donate, so the true winners each year are the food banks......
Calling All Novice Vegetable Gardeners - theHumm May 2020
By David Hinks
What is your reason for wanting to start a vegetable garden? You have found that grocery stores have lots of empty shelves? You fear that global supply chains are breaking down and trucks will not be able to cross the border? You’ve always wanted to try growing vegetables and now you have the time to try it? You’re desperately looking for a project to keep the kids busy?
The beauty of starting a vegetable garden is that there is no downside — even if there are no “dystopian-type” break......
Give Moms a (Coffee) Break! - theHumm May 2020
By Sarah Kerr
Well, to be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me. We recently moved back to the Valley from downtown Toronto, and while I saw all these amazing homeschool moms, and was often evangelized by them about how I should consider it, I always thought “bless your heart — but there’s no f-ing way I could do that without losing my mind!”
Six weeks into homeschooling, I have to say: I know myself well. My adrenaline is running out. I’ve tried ALL the coping mechanisms for my personality (Enneagram Type 7) ......
Playful May - theHumm May 2020
By Nicki Gallo
The first time I wrote a love letter to a stranger I felt giddy with secrecy and curiosity. “You are a unique and sparkly human. Thank you for shining your light.” I folded it up and left it on the back of the seat in front of me and got off at my stop.
The love note wasn’t directed at anyone in particular and I will never know if someone discovered that little mystery letter on the back of a train seat. And that’s ok. It was an experiment in play. The experience left me feeling vulner......
Reflecting on Earth Day 2020 - theHumm May 2020
By Rob Riendeau
As I write this, it is the 50th annual Earth Day. And as with most things these days, the distorting lens of the current pandemic is making me examine the day from an entirely new perspective.
Up to now, the challenges of respecting the Earth by minimizing our impact on the planet and our co-habitant species of plants and animals seemed impossible. Ideas and innovations died as soon as they were uttered, faced with the impracticality of getting from here to there. Grand announcements of bo......
Hygge Your Home! Turning Your Space into a Calming, Comfortable Sanctuary - theHumm May 2020
One morning a few weeks back I ordered a book from the wonderful indie bookstore two blocks from my home. I was feeling sad and scared, lonely and anxious. Books often calm my nerves. So I chose one I thought might bring me some comfort. By 5pm the book — The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking — was in my mailbox and it was beautiful just to look at, the cover art joyful and comforting. I plunked down on my couch and began reading, in short spurts.
Page after page I was char......
The Best Gift - theHumm May 2020
By Glenda Jones
Ah, the allure of spring! The desire to drop everything and play hooky, leave all the “have-tos” and indulge in a “want to”, even if for only one afternoon when the sun is warm on your back, and all the winter wear is flapping on the clothes line. We’re supposed to feel guilty about doing this.
However, here we are in playing hooky mode, with days stretching out for who knows how long. Did we realize that we were being handed the gift of time without the necessity of guilt? For most......
Takeout, Take 1: Eataria Unlimited - theHumm May 2020
By Sebastian Weetabix
BC (Before Covid), Weetabix’ main topic was restaurants, many of which have been severely impacted by the necessary restrictions of social distancing. This is a gentle way of saying that forced changes to an established business model can be catastrophic. Our last article (and first in the time of social distancing) advocated ordering takeout but was short on specific recommendations. We will now start to address these and other related matters in the upper part of our food chain.
Be Happy — Go Play in the Dirt! - theHumm May 2020
By Sally Hansen
Dirt as an antidepressant? Ever since 2007 researchers continue to confirm that there is a natural antidepressant in soil. Ask any gardener – dirt makes you happy.
This is great news. Growing research suggests that simply playing in the dirt may provide some of the same benefits as Prozac or other pharmaceutical antidepressants, without side effects or the danger of chemical dependency. Microbes naturally found in soil consistently demonstrate a positive link with mammalian he......
What a Time to be a Travel Advisor! - theHumm May 2020
By Emma Moxley
March began like any normal month. I advertised in the community and theHumm that I would be presenting a “Let’s Talk Travel” seminar on March 31 at the local library with my partner from Royal Irish Tours. Snowbirds were already warm down South, and some were en route to long-term stays in Europe — Spain and Portugal being typical hotspots.
We had heard about an outbreak in China, something we would soon become all too familiar with called COVID-19. But we were far removed fr......
The Community Centre without Walls - theHumm May 2020
The North Lanark Community Health Centre (NLCHC) and PEP Seniors Therapeutic Centre (PEP) are teaming up to help area seniors, and adults living with disabilities, stay connected through a new telephone-based group programming venture called the “Community Centre Without Walls – Lanark County”. PEP and the NLCHC have a lot of experience in delivering in-person group programs for seniors. Collectively they have served hundreds of older adults and seniors each year through their programs, including the......
In the Wake of the Nova Scotia Murders A Call to Address Violence Against Women and Girls - theHumm May 2020
A number of Ontario anti-violence shelters and advocates are jointly calling on public officials to address violence against women and girls as the key inciting factor in the recent mass murders in Nova Scotia. The shelters, including Kingston Interval House, Lanark County Interval House and North York Women’s Shelter express deep condolences to all those affected. “We grieve this unimaginable tragedy alongside the entire country and know that healing will be long and painful.”
This weekend br......
COVID-19 Gives Us Grief Dealing with Ambiguous Losses - theHumm May 2020
By Barbara Carroll
As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic we face multiple losses and experience the range of emotions of grief: anxiety, fear, sadness, despair, anger, loneliness, disappointment, hopelessness and regret. We each have our own losses, and we have all lost things such as peace of mind, freedom, independence, control over much of our lives, physical contact and a sense of safety. Well, we can say, COVID-19 is temporary and when it is over life will return to normal. That may be, but we are not there yet,......
Show MVFN What’s in Your Backyard this Spring! - theHumm May 2020
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists are launching a Lanark County backyard nature discovery project on iNaturalist. This will be a friendly challenge to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people during the event. As an extra bonus, all the nature observation data that you post to iNaturalist contributes to the biodiversity record of Lanark County and citizen science in g......
CFUW 2020 Education Awards Application Deadline Extended to May 31 - theHumm May 2020
By the CFUW Perth and District Education Awards Committee
The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Perth and District is now inviting applications for financial assistance from women in our community who are pursuing post-secondary education. Eligibility is subject to acceptance in a recognized post-secondary program of study and is based on financial need. Applicants must reside in the region of Perth and District, but the educational institution can be anywhere in Canada.
In the rapidly evolving situation regarding COVID-19, CFUW ......
An Inspirational Escape - theHumm May 2020
The Rideau Lakes Artists Association’s annual Art show “Paint the Summer” has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, so instead they will be hosting a virtual show/sale called “An Inspirational Escape”.
Starting in early May their talented and diverse artists will showcase their art on Facebook Facebook.com/RideauLakeartists and Instagram Instagram.com/rid......
Attention Students Interested in the Natural Environment - theHumm May 2020
The application deadline for the 2020 Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary Awards is Monday, June 1. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) are looking forward to awarding the annual Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary to the environmental leaders of tomorrow!
The MVFN is seeking graduating high school students who want to “make a difference” in meeting the environmental challenges of the future. The Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary is offered annually to assist students who will pursue ......
United by our Vulnerability - theHumm May 2020
By Helen Antebi
“Let this COVID-19 crisis be a lesson to us all in the power of collective vulnerability. We are witnessing and expressing large-scale humility, generosity and compassion most of us have not previously seen.”
This crisis of the virus has and should be a forever-lesson in vulnerability. If we have learned one thing we have in common in this time, it is that we all do not know. Our leaders do not know, parents, friends, siblings, peers do not know. We cannot answer definitively when this ......
On This Month’s Cover - theHumm May 2020
A veritable garden of art!
(clockwise from top left)
Claire Jacobs, clairejfineart.com
Sally Hansen, ...more
Jun 3 - 4 Red Trillium Studio Tour
Jun 9 Book Signing: C.C. Humphries
Jun 10 AGH Run/Walk for Women's Health
Jun 10 Angelique Francis
Jun 16 - 18 Art in the Garden
Jun 17 Dandyfest
Jun 17 Bee Gees Now tribute
Jun 23 Brighter Days
Jun 24 Almonte House & Garden Tour
Jun 24 - 25 Natives & Clay