This time of grieving is like none we’ve ever known – unless you were born during the time of the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918. During that time a world pandemic took the lives of 675,000 Americans and an estimated 50 million victims worldwide. The world war was also raging at this time in history. After the signing of the armistice of November 11, 1918, people were jubilant. There was celebrating in the streets and a feeling of freedom from the arms of war as well as a slowing of the Spanish Flu, which had run through two waves at the same time. This celebrating led to the third wave.
There are five stages to the grieving process, according to those who have chronicled the same. They are listed as follows:
- Denial & Isolation – When we first experience loss of any kind, we go through a period of denial. We isolate ourselves from others and pull deeper within. We don’t want to listen to the words of comfort, because we don’t believe them. We grow further away from those who cherish us. Many in our country are going through this stage right now. We’re stunned by the magnitude of the situation. We didn’t believe it. We’re supposed to be invincible, yet the first thing people did was stockpile things. Emotions were numbed by feeling we should be prepared for the unknown.
- Anger – The second stage comes after we realize we can no longer deny the truth. We lash out at our governing officials. We decry those who carried this illness into our country. We blame and our anger only makes us angrier. The first stage has now succumbed to our feelings of not being in control. We aren’t sure how to handle this thing which has eaten away at our bank accounts, 401Ks, our tempers and taken away our jobs, our patience, our freedom. We’re now limited as to what we do, where we go, who we see and no longer are allowed into our churches, theatres, sports events, etc.
- Bargaining & Guilt – At this time of our grieving we begin to feel desperate. Our isolation has played on us heavily. We need physical contact, hugs and togetherness. We take unnecessary chances. We don’t wear our masks or gloves. We try to make a deal with God in hopes of escaping this torture. Feelings of extreme stress set in. We feel totally helpless and guilty. We feel guilty for not following the rules – we feel guilty for going out to buy our supplies. Our minds play tricks on us. We forget who is really in control.
- Depression – When we lose someone to death, there’s an immediate sadness. We worry how we’ll survive, how we’ll pay for funeral expenses, how we’ll live without the deceased. In our current situation we all could use a big hug, but even that doesn’t make the pain go away. We must keep ourselves occupied, busy and in some sort of state of normalcy. Suicidal thoughts may occur. Now is the time to reach out to others. Though we may think we can handle the daily stresses of living, we need each other. When you’re quarantined, that isn’t always possible. If you have your family with you, use the time to fill some of the gaps that may have been unattended to in the past.
- Acceptance -When we reach this stage, we’ve decided to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We determine to believe our circumstances are real and begin to live with them. Not everyone will go through these steps of the grieving process, but one thing we must learn from any kind of loss is that we’re not alone in our struggle. Even Job from the Bible listened to his friends. Fortunately for Job, He didn’t heed their advice. He trusted God to get him through. He was confident that all of his grief would be over soon – in a little while.
Life will go on. We will have times of anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. We will get through this and we will learn from it.