Do you wake up some mornings wondering or, perhaps hoping, that you’re waking up from a bad dream? I have been feeling like this a lot lately. Waking up and realising that this is another day where Covid is real and coming to terms with my emotions has become a morning ritual.
I have been feeling lost emotionally. And for me, this is hard. I write and teach about the importance of naming the emotion so that you can connect with grief and move through it. And here I was, feeling numb, almost like someone switched on the dimmer switch to all my emotions.
I reached out to a friend who understood that I needed to name the emotion, and she explained the term ambiguous loss to me. It is not something you imagine at all!
Ambiguous loss feels uncertain, is without closure and clear understanding. It does not have defined boundaries; it is not a black and white event. You may be grieving for someone physically present but psychologically absent in your life (as in dementia, or so overwhelmed with stress and anxiety that they are incapable of connecting with you). Or you may mourn for someone who is physically absent but psychologically present (such as missing the people you love due to Covid restrictions, confinement to your home or living with someone who is autistic or a drug addict).
I suspect we are all grieving for the people absent in our lives but still a part of it. We are emotionally exhausted and drained, and very often, we mourn in isolation. We are unsure about what tomorrow will bring. Will we test positive for Covid? What if someone we love does? What does all this mean for our economy? It is hard to find the love, joy and belonging that we crave as humans.
This type of loss is hard to explain and even harder to heal from. If you can’t name it for what it is, you are left searching for answers, and because you are not really sure what or who you are grieving for, the healing process takes so much longer.
So let’s name it for what it is – you may also be experiencing ambiguous loss. I have felt a tremendous sense of relief to know that there is a name for what I was feeling. I was not imagining the sense of unease and the urge to numb the pain I was feeling. The problem is that if you numb the pain, the joyful moments are also less wonderous.
What has helped me is to become more conscious of finding my daily joy. You have to physically stop, pause for a moment, and take in the joyfulness. In this newsletter, Claire Holden shares a wonderful exercise on finding our joyful moments.
I find my peace and enjoyment in my garden, looking at my beautiful roses or sitting at the fish pond watching the Koi fish. My morning run has become my tonic for the day and, every time I’m able to connect with a friend face-to-face outdoors, my happiness index rises a couple of notches. As a family, we celebrated with lots of smiles and happiness when, after two operations and many treatments, my husband Gys’s cancer biopsies were negative. We have three stress-free months before we have to go for another check-up.
You are not imagining how you’re feeling, but you are not alone. Let’s spread some joy and love together.