Guest writer: Diana San Francisco, California
This time is unprecedented. We are in a constant state of grief in some ways. We are grieving our old ways of life, our time with others, and for some the biggest grieving of all, the deaths of our loved ones.
Before the virus really hit here, I was already grieving.
My stepmom was tragically killed while walking the dog in December. My world was turned upside-down and I felt I was reflecting on everything as “pre-her death” and “post-her death.”
I looked back at photos just a day before it happened, celebrating Christmas with my boyfriend’s family in LA and so innocently unaware of the fragility of life. I got the news of her death the next day on a plane ride home to Chicago to see her and the rest of my family.
In that moment of limbo, when I found out she was an accident, I prayed.
I’m not someone who normally prays, but I prayed so hard in that moment. I bargained and bartered with a God to just give me a chance to see her again. In that moment of limbo it seems we would do anything and everything to protect our loved ones. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given that chance. I’ve been in a mourning process since, and some days I see brighter colors and feel more euphoria than ever while in nature or with friends. I feel the fragility of life and want to soak up everything.
So when we moved into shelter in place and quarantine, I felt all my mourning come to the surface again. Why was life so fragile? What are we willing to do to SAVE our loved ones? What are we willing to do to save anyone?
It seemed an easy answer, we must take this on. How privileged am I to have shelter and food and a job still. I felt helpless in the first days, how could I help others? How could I support my students with hard family situations and mental health needs through a screen? How could we help save each other if we couldn’t see each other face to face?
I looked at the inequities in front of me and felt completely overwhelmed. I knew what would play out in the weeks to come as more people of color and people in poverty would take the brunt of this burden. I knew we would see many not have the luxury of working from home. I knew somehow there would still be a political divide in how our country and our world handled this crisis.
Again, I began dividing life into pre-pandemic and post- pandemic. I wondered what we would do collectively to change in a post-pandemic world.
So what does the world need more of during a pandemic? We need raw resiliency.
The resiliency that pushes us to recognize the fragility of life and still fight for each other. The resiliency to know it’s ok to mourn, but we also must recognize what we do have. We must be resilient enough to rise above socially constructed boundaries and help every single person in a more dire circumstance than us. We must be able to think of this time in limbo and FIGHT for a chance to share laughs and love with those that mean the most to us.
We need the resilience to think past the short term and into the long term. We need a long term plan to counter the inequities our society Is built on. We need the resilience to fix the broken systems so future generations do not have to live with our mistakes and our misconstrued belief that we had infinite time.
Resilience is in the heart of every worker on the front lines whether in the hospital or the grocery store, fighting to keep people alive.
Resilience is the person in congress fighting to make sure the people matter as much as the corporations.
Resilience is in every person looking to find new ways to connect and to find purpose in order to help protect others.
Resilience is the recognition that life may be fragile, so instead of giving up, we will rise from the ashes and heal each other.
Resilience is wearing our hearts on our sleeves and being open in our grief.
When sitting on that plane, I was in limbo, thinking about the before of my life and what the after would hold. After we find out about the fragility of life, it is hard to go back. Days can be duller and brighter all at once.
Yet, in my pain , I heard endless stories of those who had lost loved ones and their lives kept going. We were built to keep going and to never give up on fighting for a love and light filled life. Yet, now I know how fragile it is, I know we each have a finite number of days. It may be scary to say, but with that knowledge how will you live your life differently?
In a pandemic, how do we focus on what’s in our control and find our raw resilience in order to help ourselves and our loved ones feel supported beyond anything else.
We need to feel each other’s hearts in this moment. Wear your heart openly on your sleeve. Share your moments of grief. Share your moments of hope. They can go hand in hand. Through our communal resilience, we can rely on each other in times of trauma and have collective healing.
The frailty of our time is real, yet this raw resilience lies within all of us. Don’t bargain and barter for the words left unsaid. The universe is asking you to be in this moment, to focus on what is in your control and to never let your shine fade away. You are more resilient than you ever could have imagined. Harness it and use it to fight for the life you deserve. Harness it and use it to help others find their own light in the darkness. Harness it and use it to transform grief over what you don’t have into gratitude for what you do.
When I feel most in my grief, I remember that I can walk on this earth with strength in my heart. I can let this difficulty transform me and I can use my own resilient power to help others navigate through this darkness.