I read a memoir recently, about someone who is surviving cancer. The author describes how they have felt throughout the journey: the feelings include all the stages of grief, as well as survivor guilt and PTSD. As I was reading the feelings of the author, I couldn’t help but think of the corollary of surviving: how any time there’s a tragedy, the feelings that come alongside it are the same, no matter what the tragedy.
Think about COVID.
How many times have people stated “But look at how many people have died”. How many people have dwelt on the sheer number of dead people? See, that’s survivor guilt.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be mourning those who have been lost: I just wonder how much good this is doing our mental health….
We survived. Others didn’t.
How do we move on?
Is making ourselves feel guilty about making it to the other side going to do anyone any good?
How about PTSD…
I know I have PTSD from 9/11. I tell my daughter that I love her every time I say good bye to her. Every. Time. I still remember people I knew who had loved ones that died that day: there biggest regret was not telling them how much they loved them every single day…so that became my thing. My daughter, born post 9/11 says it to me as well. She knows how I carry the trauma of that event in my head and heart every day.
How many people are going to live the rest of their lives with Pandemic PTSD? Will they be able to function normally, or will the scars be more visible?
Hold those thoughts for a moment:
The other night I was on Zoom book club. One of the women was supposed to miss book club because one of her children and her grandchildren were in town (one of her kids lives sort of local to her) M was supposed to go out to dinner with her two kids and assorted grandkids- first time all together in over a year. M decided not to go to dinner- she is still too scared to venture out socially. Her out of town relations were only going to be in town for a short stay…but M was too afraid to go out…
Hold that too…
My co op board recently met to discuss whether or not we needed to wear masks in our building. The rule was brought to a vote after the CDC and New York State said that masks were no longer required indoors if people are vaccinated. At the first meeting, it was decided that the board would make a decision after the Realty Board gave out their ruling.
A week after NY state made the decision, the Realty Board agreed to the no masks if vaccinated policy.
Still, the board had an issue.
A vote was taken- 4-3 in favor of getting rid of masks for vaccinated people. The minority still wasn’t happy and were quite vocal about it. Finally someone said:
Three groups that dictate what we do and don’t do have stated that masks are not needed. The infection rate is very low. Over 60% of New Yorkers have been vaccinated. At what point will you feel safe? What is your magic number? What do you need to see to get to this next step?
And after that the three dissenters conceded.
There is no magic number to feeling safe.
Safety is not a guarantee.
I know that we all have a wide variety of feelings about the past year. It has been a horrific event. But what made this event even worse is that we have chosen sides. We have mocked the way people felt.
There is no right way to get through a traumatic event. We all handle things differently.
We all need to get past this. Note I did not say get over it. I did not say that you are not allowed to have feelings, deep, ingrained feelings, about this event.
I am just saying that we need to move forward.
So what will it take for you to move forward?
What is the number that you are looking for?
What is the event that you are waiting for?
This isn’t the end of a game where we count down 10-9-8…
We will never get to 1…
People who move on aren’t insensitive. They don’t lack empathy. They just know that no matter what happened yesterday, we need to get through today. We need to get to tomorrow.
How do you want your tomorrow to be?