Stages of grief and COVID-19

Chicago Tribune - - YOUR VOICE -

I know the cal­en­dar says au­tumn, but Fri­day morn­ing, with Chicago’s tem­per­a­ture in the 30s, I’m pretty sure win­ter has ar­rived. And for me, af­ter four sea­sons of COVID-19, so has ac­cep­tance.

If you’ve ever lost some­one you love, you know the stages of grief. They start with de­nial, and if you’re lucky, and af­ter a lot of work, there is ac­cep­tance.

Back in March, I laughed and rolled my eyes when I saw peo­ple bump­ing el­bows in­stead of giv­ing hugs. I thought schools would never be closed for more than a week, maybe two. And I won’t get sick, not as long as Purell is around. The de­nial stage.

And then ev­ery­thing stopped. The quiet in the city was deaf­en­ing and very scary.

Lit­tle by lit­tle, COVID-19 chipped away at the life I love. I was an­gry, and I had nowhere to put it. The anger stage.

Masks gave me some bar­gain­ing power. I could leave where I was shel­ter­ing in place and feel some­what pro­tected. Get­ting some fresh air seemed to be OK, too. Su­per­mar­kets of­fered “se­nior hours.” Zoom? Never heard of it, and now it’s a verb! I could see my fam­ily and have a vir­tual cock­tail with friends. The new nor­mal be­gan. The bar­gain­ing stage.

But by Au­gust, I be­gan to be­lieve the night­mare was real, and I may never wake up. The de­pres­sion stage.

To­day, even though ex­perts warn things will get worse be­fore they get bet­ter, our rock star and guid­ing light, the bril­liant epi­demi­ol­o­gist Dr. An­thony Fauci, con­tin­ues to pre­dict we will have a safe and ef­fec­tive vac­cine by spring, and I trust him. The ac­cep­tance stage.

Soon there will be hol­i­day lights to lift my spir­its, when I can­not cel­e­brate the sea­son as I usu­ally do. But I can do what­ever it takes, a bit longer, be­cause I know there’s a light at the end of the tun­nel.

You can too! Wear a mask, wash your hands, so­cially dis­tance — and vote!

— Susan Kutchin Pal­lant, Chicago

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