March Feelings

I know we all know about February blues in the midwest. March though, March feelings have me all sorts of twisted. Four years ago, I had a friend halfway thru her  battle with cancer, her fight was only about two months. Three years ago, my grandma passed from cancer on March 8. Two years ago, one of my bestest friends in the whole world passed from cancer on March 8. All three had gotten sick around my birthday in January. Last year, I declared that in my 40s, I would not have friends sick on my birthday and dead from cancer by spring. Emotionally, I was over going through loss.Yes, fully aware that one can’t declare something like that, but I tried anyhow. As March came in, I was like, we are doing it folks! L-theory was gearing up for our dance tour, we were less than a month from our first show. A big goal of 2020 was to PR my half marathon, and ran a test half beginning of March. I had zero friends and family who had been diagnosed with cancer since the start of the year.

And then March 2020 happened. Covid 19 shut down my world as I knew it. I was onboard with 14 days to slow the curve. It confused me as to how, since we hadn’t really shut everything down. Seemed like 2 weeks would not be enough. Clearly, it wasn’t enough. We are now 12 months into a global pandemic with no return to our previous normal scheduled yet. Things do look to be moving in the right direction.  Grace has been inside her school 4 times since March 13th, four times! At least she is back. Vaccines are becoming more readily available for those who choose to get vaccinated. The warmer weather has people and dogs outside, walking and getting in much needed sunshine.

I often talk about how we can grieve more than when someone dies. In many ways, 2020 was a case study for people and their individual grief cycles. Grief is a tricky beast, and at first I focused on a lot of loss of things. I didn’t get to tour with the dance company, I had 2 friends not have the weddings they planned. We cancelled our family Disney cruise, to celebrate not only my birthday but our wedding anniversary. Grace did a piano recital on Zoom and a dance show outside, over two days. Everything was just so different.

I needed to dig in and make things happen though. First, I learned all about Zoom and a new platform for scheduling and payments, had a rough learning curve of doing live virtual classes and pre recorded workouts. Everything from music to timer volume to different equipment availability. I kept up on CDC suggested cleaning protocols, social distance recommendations, and mask mandates as we headed to summer. When I opened boot camp back to in person classes, I didn’t stop the virtual classes. Becka’s boot camp now includes two other instructors for virtual classes and I have over 100 workouts on my private youtube channel from 2020 alone.

Elizsabeth Kubler-Ross first wrote about grief and had 5 stages. She later said that she wished she did a better job of showing that the process isn’t linear, and that her process was more about the person who was ill or dying. Her five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Another popular model contains 7 stages, and much like Kubler-Ross, these stages are not linear. Just because you moved from one to another stage, that doesn’t mean you won’t go back to the previous stage.

I found this breakdown from Healthline, and I think it is pretty clear.

  • Shock and denial. This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings.
  • Pain and guilt. You may feel that the loss is unbearable and that you’re making other people’s lives harder because of your feelings and needs.
  • Anger and bargaining. You may lash out, telling God or a higher power that you’ll do anything they ask if they’ll only grant you relief from these feelings.
  • Depression. This may be a period of isolation and loneliness during which you process and reflect on the loss.
  • The upward turn. At this point, the stages of grief like anger and pain have died down, and you’re left in a more calm and relaxed state.
  • Reconstruction and working through. You can begin to put pieces of your life back together and carry forward.
  • Acceptance and hope. This is a very gradual acceptance of the new way of life and a feeling of possibility in the future.

Looking through the list, we can all see the shock and denial from March. My focus on loss of events, especially because I knew we were blessed to not be sick, blessed that our livelihood wasn’t in jeopardy, and blessed to be able to make necessary changes, can really be in that pain & gulit or anger & bargaining. Not quite that level, but for sure touches on them. Depression, we know that ER visits in pediatric hospitals for mental health issues is up 300%. What a scary statistic. Even the most fortunate can find themselves feeling like they are alone.

Personally, I feel that I spent summer and fall going between depression and upward turn. Things were as good as can be expected until life felt very isolating. In the winter months, I quarantined twice due to exposure. Holiday celebrations were either so different or non existent, and it added to my feelings. I totally turned to a therapist for some help. While I know what I’m going through is totally normal, to be expected at some level, and it isn’t a true depression, it always helps to have someone to talk through life.

Reconstruction and working through was really starting to happen, with even some acceptance and hope. True to the saying that grief comes in waves, today has knocked me back. I know this isn’t my normal type of post, but writing it out has helped me today. Maybe it spoke to you, too. We may feel alone, but we are not the only one. The last year, when people have said, “we’re all in this together”. My reply is, yes in the same storm, but we don’t all have the same ship. If you are feeling any of these feelings, reach out for support. Maybe that is in the form of a blog post, or calling a friend, or maybe it’s time to check in with a therapist.

Here’s to hope and brighter days ahead!