Let’s face it. The world will not be “normal” as we know it after this. I was awake for a long time last night thinking about how this will change the way our kids grow up in a Post-Coronavirus World. They will have a very different life from the one we were raised in Pre-Coronavirus.
In my contemporary parenting class at San Jose State University, we discuss how many times parents grieve for their children when they believe that they may not have a so-called “normal” childhood. For example, when a child comes out to their parents as being LGBTQIA, parents go through a process of coming terms that their child is different, they may be targeted or bullied at school, they will not have a traditional marriage, and may not be grandparents one day. Based on a parent’s own beliefs and perceptions about the “stressor” being LBGTQIA these responses may vary. In many cases, parents have to go through grieving process, if this was not the “vision” they had for their child growing up.
Similarly, parents are going through a grieving process today. They want things to go back to the way they were— and they want their children to have the same kinds of childhood that they did. The same kinds of events and adventures whether it is the annual Fall Festival at school, to celebrating milestones at graduation ceremonies, to traveling for summer vacations. Unfortunately, are “norms” will not be the same and each of us needs to think about what stage of grief we are in before we can come to terms with this “stressor” in our lives.
There are 5 Stages to Grief that have been outlined by Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to describe the emotions that surface during the death of a loved one. I recently lost my father-in-law and can vividly recall this emotional rollercoaster ride. Many of us are going this today as we make sense of and process what Post-Coronavirus Life means for our families and loved ones.
As I describe each of these stages, I want you to remember that the stages are not linear and may not happen in this process…
1. Denial: This was happening in other parts of the world before it came to us. We watched, we empathized, but we knew that it would not happen to us. We booked a trip to attend a wedding in Dallas, we even booked a trip to Italy for the last day of school, May 29th, 2020. My husband was positive that Coronavirus would be contained by June. We never cancelled our ticket. Our Airline had to cancel our ticket for us.
2. Anger (which can lead to Fear): We watched as things kept taking a turn for the worse. I don’t recall being angry at this point, but many may have been as we were told to drastically change our lives due to “shelter in place” orders and schools shutting down. I was more fearful that this had actually reached a point where we had to this! That fear translated to hoarding toilet paper, groceries, and basic necessities.
3. Bargaining: Yes, we were in “shelter in place,” but schools would re-open after spring break. We could do this! But then schools announced they were not re-opening for the school year. The struggle became much more real as we navigated un-chartered territory of working, parenting, teaching 24/7 all while being at home.
4. Sadness/Depression: I don’t know when this will end and if it will really end? The world has changed and it will be different from our children growing up. My children won’t really have the same memories as me growing up in a Post-Coronavirus world. My older son (11) will remember more of this world than my daughter (6).
5. Acceptance: This is happening. I need to figure this out and help my kids figure this out. How are they processing this? How do we move forward from here?
Things are slowly starting to surface for my kids. As they watch movies and note that kids are holding hands on a field trip for school. My daughter, who is six years of age recently said “Mom, don’t they know about coronavirus? Why are they all holding hands?”
I am also a member of the Parent Faculty Club (PFC) and we recently had a call to discuss what next year would look like: we would most likely not be having in-person registration, and we would most likely not need to plan for major school events such as our annual Fall Festival. The reality is that small businesses are likely to sponsor and people will want to avoid crowds. There are so many changes coming our way as we begin to think about getting back to our “normal” lives.
This is the reality of our new world. The Author Arundathi Roy recently stated “The Pandemic is a Portal.” The invisible bug is imagined everywhere we go and it has changed our way of living and being. She goes on to note that “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and image their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” We as parents need to process our grief and get to a point where we choose to walk through this portal with strength and courage. This will help our kids process their own emotions around Post-Coronavirus and be ready for what comes next…!