I don’t know about you but I’m feeling the pain of COVID-19.
I have a small business which is impacted, travel plans and events that have been cancelled, and friends that are now out of work.
AND I’m truly fortunate that none of my friends or family members have contracted the illness.
So, it could be worse, but that doesn’t stop the feeling of grief and pain for the loss experienced. Many of my friends and family members are small business owners and/or make their living from the Arts and Events.
In the last week they have been devastated by the news that events greater than 100 people will be cancelled. Small businesses that were thriving 1 month ago are barely hanging on.
‘Groov in the Moo’ a large music festival that many people have been looking forward to for months…gone, and with it the revenue it promised.
Christmas presents, like the tickets to ‘School of Rock’ I bought my partner, have become useless as shows are cancelled.
My partner and many of our friends who are musicians have lost gigs and a large part of their family income.
And that’s just a start, think about:
- The people who are devasted as their weddings are cancelled/postponed.
- The holidays that people have saved for years to take are cancelled.
- Casual employees have lost jobs.
- People can’t fly to see elderly parents who are overseas.
- Your favourite coffee shop owner who is doing it tough as people stay at home.
- People in nursing homes and retirement villages wondering when their grandkids will be able to visit.
Of course, it’s still not 14 days in a hospital or worse a death, but the thing we have to understand is our bodies register grief as pain, physical and emotional pain. The body doesn’t compare grief, the mind does, but the body doesn’t. We may cry or be angry over the loss of a favourite t-shirt. Grief is grief.
The human experience has shifted dramatically in the last few weeks and it creates a personal impact and, even if you want to deny it, grief.
We must be careful not to compare grief with someone else’s grief. There isn’t a limited supply of empathy and compassion. Comparing people’s grief over the loss of a job to the loss of a loved one may look like ‘giving perspective’ but it can invalidate that person’s pain.
As an example, I saw a connection of mine expressing deep sorrow on Facebook over the fact that her family from overseas couldn’t be at her wedding, and that her honeymoon has been cancelled. A ‘well-meaning’ person responded with “well at least you are having your wedding my friend’s wedding was cancelled completely, so chin up honey”. I’m sure in her mind it sounded like offering perspective, but to the receiver that could be a ‘block and delete’ moment. She could have just written, “stop complaining other people have it worse than you” with the same effect. A complete empathy miss.
We are being provided with countless opportunities to connect and provide empathy to each other, and as many opportunities to completely miss the mark.
If you want to know more about showing empathy to people who are experiencing grief and loss, without being seen as ‘well-meaning but clueless’ have a look at this video by Brené Brown.
Comparing someone’s pain to someone else’s pain isn’t empathy and isn’t helpful.
Grief is grief.
We’re all in this together.