COLLECTIVE COVID GRIEF

Last week I had to stop by our preschool to collect Willa’s things – her sweet 3-year-old artwork from her first year of school that she won’t get to finish. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot and saw the little yellow house with the warm mask-covered faces of such loving teachers, I burst into tears. It surprised me. In the scheme of things, I didn’t even know this was a loss I also needed to process.

There’s been so much letting go. So much we all planned. So much on hold. So much “pivoting” we’re all dizzy. So much collective stress in the world and worry for what is to come of life as we knew it.

I’ve been here before. When life as I knew it suddenly and dramatically changed. Our natural instinct is to hold tightly to the life we knew and lean into the hope of “when this is over.” A literal pause.

But Life, with her wisdom and mystery, keeps on ticking. With or without our permission.

When your seven-year-old self beams out to the world with a proud toothless smile, you expect things out of Life. You assume. You relish in anticipation of her mysterious wonder and for the day it will be your turn as the adult in fabled tales of adventure.

Standing in adulthood can feel shocking. It’s nothing like the expectation of youth. It’s grittier and disappointing, and also richer and more soulful than your sticky dirt-covered child hands could have ever held.

I learned a long time ago to find a way to loosen my grip on plans and expectations. The cherished and the precious. It’s a process. A letting go of what we want, grieving the many losses embedded in those plans, and finding a way to accept what is. It isn’t easy. But the truth is it is Life and our short time with her that is the ultimate gift. Even with all the muck and the unexpected and the pain, she also holds the joy and the beauty and the journey.

Today, right now, with the chaos and unknown, is our time. This IS it. And this day is a gift many are not granted.

So grieve, my friends. Burst into tears and let out the sadness for what we thought would be. And then dust off and relish in the glory of today and what we choose to do with it.

NEVER GIVE UP.

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