By Marlene Goldman
“Happy Panniversary” a colleague said towards the end of another virtual meeting. Huh, it’s been a year. Yet, I’ve been feeling like March 2020 just keeps repeating itself.
Luckily, I was already seeing a therapist when the world shut down. Unfortunately, I was already in therapy for burn out which has been exacerbated from the pandemic. In a year, I’ve tried a few things to relax; I attempted a materialist self-care day that was not even close to satisfactory. Then, I considered that I just needed a release. I’ve been on autopilot since March to deal with everything and I tried old hacks that typically would provide the emotional dump I needed. But the release never came. I know the value in letting the body get rid of stress and bottled up emotions. So why wasn’t I able to let go of this baggage?
I listened to a podcast episode from Therapy for Black Girls which talked about the process of grieving during the pandemic. Then, it clicked. Have I taken the time to grieve what has been lost during the pandemic? Not only the many lives that have been taken from the deadly virus but the time, the experiences, and the connection that is so important to many of us.
As Black women, with our ancestral lineage, we can feel guilty and feel like we have nothing to grieve. The saying “It could be worse” is helpful to put things in perspective but invalidates our experiences. How do we begin to validate our feelings & emotions if we are always pushing them down or explaining them away? What if instead, we acknowledged & processed what we’re going through even if it feels like you don’t deserve to?
So, I’m embarking on a 3 step process to work through my feelings of grief…
Acknowledge & grieve the loss
I’m very fortunate during this pandemic but, the point here is to not explain away unfavorable feelings. I haven’t seen my loved ones in over a year, outside of my partner. We communicate often however, I still grieve, not being able to see & hug my family, especially my mother during this time.
Give grace if possible
Not every situation deserves grace &/or it is not possible for you to do so at that time and that’s okay. I’m giving myself & my family grace. This is not the time for me to keep tally marks of how much someone has checked in on me or reacted to my social media posts. Also, I can’t beat myself up for the boundaries I have in place by not traveling during this time. Nor can I fault others who find it necessary to travel right now. We’re all doing what’s best for ourselves & each other (I hope.)
Not every negative experience has a lesson to be learned but, I’m hoping for some takeaways for personal growth during this process. I won’t get the time spent isolating back but I can use this experience to value the time I have with others moving forward.
I can use these experiences to give myself & other Black women permission to actually feel all of the emotions. Even when we feel like we don’t have a reason to feel them. We aren’t serving anyone, especially ourselves by continuing to keep it all bottled in.
Marlene Goldman is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC who loves a good outfit with a cupcake to match. If you’re looking for a better start to your Mondays, follow her on Instagram @mondayswithmarlene