With the recognition that we ALL are experiencing something that we have never experienced before, comes the acknowledgement that there are certain things that we have lost and will never get back. Our “new normal” consists of daily numbers in the tens of thousands that give an accounting of the dead and the dying on a global scale. And with that comes a resignation that we must drastically change our behavior in order to survive this worldwide pandemic. We have to concede that it is our frailty and common humanity that has brought even the most powerful among us to our knees. If you have not come to a place where you KNOW that things have definitely gotten beyond your control, then you are living in an alternate reality where denial is more comfortable for you than the acceptance of truth and facts. When the truth finally sinks in, there comes a wave of disbelief, sorrow, anger and even grief.
At a time when the seasons have changed from winter to spring, with the trees and flowers in bloom, we are typically looking forward to proms and graduations all over the country. Instead of being able to send out high school and college invitations and look forward to the big springtime wedding season, schools and academic institutions all over the country have closed down for the rest of the school year. Due to mandates from government officials, public gatherings are being prohibited causing restaurants and hotel catering services to be closed down, which then causes celebrations for wedding ceremonies, graduations, retirements and even reunions to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely.
Covid-19 slammed into us like a devastating tsunami or tornado that hits with unrelenting devastation. Although we had warning signs that the destruction was coming, we really could not believe that what had happened in China, Italy and Spain could actually happen here, in the United States of America. But here we are in the midst of the worldwide pandemic that doesn’t recognize any distinction between nations, people or places. The grief is real.
The cancellation of grand events like March Madness, the NBA and MLB seasons and the 2020 Olympic Games speaks volumes as to the human toll this pandemic is taking on people and communities worldwide. Soon we will have to find ways to commemorate and celebrate our students and our graduates for their accomplishments and achievements, because they must be celebrated. Hopefully, creative and committed people will find ways to uniquely replace our iconic traditions like the prom and Senior Day. We will find new ways to elevate the pomp and circumstance of graduation ceremonies even though most graduations for schools and universities have been cancelled for this year. These new ways won’t be the same as we expected nor will they be in the same traditions of past ceremonies, but they can have their own distinctive and distinguished characteristics. And they MUST. These are mile markers in people’s lives. They are rites of passage moments that people usually remember for years to come. These celebrations bring families and communities together, but right now we cannot come together because our lives and the lives of others depend on us keeping our distance from one another. This is a time of sacrifice for all of us. However, that sacrifice is not the same for everyone. Many of us are losing far more than we can ever get back. It’s okay to grieve the loss. It’s okay to allow yourself to feel sad or even angry. You don’t have to “act” like everything is alright when it’s not! The beginning of the healing process first comes in the recognition that the grief is REAL. You can begin to look up after that and WE can strategize together. Where do we go from here?