Dear CIROS #7

Going through the five stages of grief


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Dear writer #6,

You talked about coping mechanisms and it reminded me when someone compared dealing with this crisis and the five stages of grief. It sounded very strange to me at first: I did not lose someone I care about. However, I felt robbed of these three years’ grand finale and did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to some of my friends. Now, the more I think about it, the more if find myself fitting this pattern.

Denial – I didn’t take the situation seriously at first. When university closed, my mother convinced me to come home – by convinced I mean she didn’t let me the choice. The thing is I packed for 2 weeks not to months. I forgot a ton of little things but also some meds I would need 3 weeks later. Even if I thought the lockdown wouldn’t last long, this kind of details starting to add up and so was the stress.

Anger – a couple of weeks after the lockdown started, I found myself getting mad for very stupid reasons. On moment I resented the entire universe and a couple of hours later I didn’t even remember why. I didn’t want to go out but it made me very anxious that I couldn’t. The thing that frustrated me the most was how hard it was for me to do anything. I see what you meant writer #6, I kept hearing about people starting new hobbies, making bread, exercising, taking online classes and the list goes on. On the other, sometimes it felt like walking from my room to the kitchen was the best I could do.

Helplessness – I spent a week not being able to get out of bed. There was so much to do that I couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I couldn’t watch the news anymore it just made me too anxious. I just wanted to escape. Usually I would go for a walk but that wasn’t really an option here. Legally, I was allowed an hour walk within a 1km perimeter around my flat but I got stressed that policemen would think my reason wasn’t valid.

Bargaining – I looked for every possible way to come back to the Netherlands. I thought that I could just hopped on a plane while respecting preventing measures and this way no risk would be taken. I thought that if I just self-quarantine a little more in exchange. Yeah, I know this was a bad idea and I stayed at home.

The final stage is acceptance. I’m getting there. I have accepted that this is a crisis and there is nothing much I can do about it. I waited 57 days and I finally went on a walk on the river banks with a friend (2m away from each other). As a mild control freak, I am still stressed out by not knowing when things are going to go back to normal nor about what I’ll do next year.

The thing that helps me is taking things one step at a time. I usually make a to-do list with rather small items: instead of writing ‘finish thesis’ I wrote ‘finish theory part 2’. I do not want to think about the future just yet, I’d rather focus on what I have to do today. I think that is the positive thing I gain from this.

So, what about you writer 8? Did you move out of the Netherlands in 3 days because your country went full lockdown? Did you make your own bread? But most importantly, what are your next goals? What keeps you hopeful? What do you hold on to?

In any case, I hope you are well.

— Hanna, writing from France