It's been an... interesting week. If you had told me last week Tuesday or Wednesday that, here in Michigan, all schools would be shut down, businesses closed, events canceled, and people confined to their houses until further notice, I would not have believed you. This type of rapidly spreading, deadly virus is something I'd expect to read about in apocalyptic literature, not the news. And yet, this is the situation in which we find ourselves. As a counselor and, more importantly, a human being, I am asking myself the best way to process through these events and my own thoughts and feelings.
I've seen several ideas and recommendations for "how to socially distance" and the best way to structure your day if you're stuck at home. Many in the medical profession have offered advice as to what supplies we should be stocking up on and how to care for those who are sick. These types of information are valuable at this time. It is helpful and important to know what to do in a crisis. However, my experience so far has been overwhelmingly emotional. And I believe it is just as important to tend to our feelings in times of grief, loss, or uncertainty. It is my strongly-held position that no one can tell another person how s/he should be feeling, but that there is incredible power in listening and being heard. And so I think it is vital that we allow the time and space for one another to tell our stories, and to be honest about how we feel. To listen, love, and validate the best we can. I can't tell you how you should be feeling, but I can tell you how I feel.
I feel very sad. Events that were important to me, close to my heart, and that I hoped to share with others, will no longer take place. A trip I had planned to celebrate an accomplishment and visit loved ones cannot continue. I am heartbroken for the students who will not be able to finish their semesters as they expected. I am devastated for those who have lost loved ones to the virus. I feel anxious not knowing what the next days and weeks will look like and realizing that no one else does either. I worry that I am not doing enough to protect myself and prevent the spread. I wonder if my family will be okay, if the economy will survive, if those who are struggling with layoffs and unemployment will be able to support themselves. I feel grateful that my concerns, in the grand scheme of things, are small, and that I have a husband at home to watch movies and do puzzles with. I am thankful for my faith in God and my belief that He is loving and sovereign. I hope and pray that this crisis will end very soon.
These are changing and unprecedented times. As we are continually adjusting to new information and instructions, it is only natural that our emotions will change, too. I really want you to know that, however you are feeling, it's okay to feel that way. The very best we can do for ourselves and others is to be available to talk, cry, laugh, and listen. Connection (even if only virtual) has never been more indispensable. Stay safe and healthy out there, and please let us know if we can serve you in any way!
Audrey Aukeman | MA, LLPC