On March 23, Scott Berinato published an article on Harvard Business Review called “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” and it went viral. The piece was brilliant, so much so that it was shared by my work internal comms team. It resonated with so many people because we’re not used to being in the exact same place. Everyone on earth (except Donald Trump) is affected by this collective experience.
Some of us are more well acquainted with grief than others and so it’s easily recognisable. But for others, this feeling is strange. Mourning the loss of something isn’t a familiar place. We can’t help mourning the end of the world as we know it. And while it feels very apocaplyptic right now, the world will go on. That’s for sure, but the type of world we find ourselves in will not be like this one.
This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air. -Berinato
Having a label for that feeling that’s deep in your belly is helpful. It makes you feel normal and reminds you that you aren’t alone. You are in this with literally every one on the planet and there’s comfort in that. In a moment when we don’t know when we will see our friends again, when we will walk the dog and when we will collect a package from the post box and not panic, it’s easy to feel confused, burdened and broken.
I whizz back and forth from being okay to being a mess. In a matter of minutes I’m falling apart. Then I’m doing my job. Then I’m taking a break while juggling my life, my job, my child and my fear. So having a label, grief – makes it make sense. Suddenly I’m okay because what I’m going through is normal. It’s not me. It’s everyone.
I wonder what we will accept as normal. Can any of us go back to working the way we once did? Can we truly respect the leaders of a company who weren’t kind to their employees during a crisis? Can we go back to pretending that our home lives don’t exist when we’re at work? Can we return to an undervaluing of our humanity in pursuit of money, power, achievement, or whatever else we’ve done?
How on earth would we go back and carry on as normal? We can’t – because life won’t ever go back. It keeps moving forward but in this case, it’s a whole new type of normal. For one, working from home is going to be a much more normal part of life. People are hopefully going to be more aware of the value of “low skilled” people – just because you haven’t studied doesn’t mean you aren’t worth a livable wage. I hope supermarket workers will start to earn a decent salary. I hope nurses will be treated with the respect they deserve. Bus drivers, people who produce food. Delivery people. Couriers. The list goes on and one.
The ones who have mattered the least in this time are the sports people, the musicians, the performers. The ones who are used to being paid the most money. Instead, the value of science and research has hopefully increased. The stupidity of antivaxxers exposed. The world will never go back to what it was.
We live in a different time already and we can’t ever go back. This is our normal and it will continue to change day by day. So we grieve. For the life we knew that we have now lost. We are grieving for the unexpected path we are yet to walk. The uncertain future. The lack of routine and comfort and safety.
The hardest type of grief is the grief where you’re grieving for something you don’t understand and you can’t reason with. It’s the fear of the unknown. The fear of what’s to come. It may be nothing, it may be severe. Grief is different for everyone but this space we are in, we are in together.
Read the article. It’s really well written and helps with placing your feelings and that shifty feeling deep in your belly. Just know, we are in this together. Stay Safe. Stay Home.
Kia Kaha | Stay Strong.