Finding ‘new normal’

Dear Editor,
I, like many of you, am trying to get my head around our “new normal,” and how to deal with these myriad of human emotions, from anger to bewilderment to fear, all related to COVID-19!
And you know what dawned on me? We ARE dealing with this new, scary reality. And, exactly as predicted. PREDICTED? Yes!
I take you back to 1969 to the then groundbreaking Elisabeth Kubler–Ross research and book “On Grief and Grieving,” which gave birth to countless other studies since then. This important research documented the predictable stages of grief resulting from “life-altering”events. And if what is happening in America and the world right now isn’t “life-altering,” I don’t know what is!
We, you and I, do know a thing or two about going through life-altering events! Think: death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, violence, and others. These are the human conditions we endure. And always have. The good news is we continue on. Changed, yes. “Reconfigured?” Absolutely!
This reconfiguration is a process that takes time. I am pretty sure government leaders at all levels are trying to decide, right now, when and how to communicate what is ahead! It’s not necessarily because they are being derelict in their duties, but because they too have been working through their own grieving process. And DENIAL is one of the first stages.
I recall my career working with global companies as they navigated large scale organizational change. What was apparent was that the necessary roll-out of plans didn’t happen as quickly as planned. Why? Because the leaders were having difficulty accepting the reality of the organization’s needs.
But once they accepted the reality, many couldn’t understand why those below them on the organizational chart couldn’t “get on board.” In fact those workers were just beginning their own “grieving,” whereas the executives had already had a head start accepting the change!
This is how we thought the change process happens within the context of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then acceptance.
Now we realize it’s really denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in any order.
I think this is where we are as a nation. Our leaders are only a bit ahead of us on this particular “curve,” given the rapidly changing COVID-19 landscape. This curve is a pretty intense, time dependent one. We all are trying to play catch up and accept our individual responsibilities.
Bottom line, there is no “normal” for how we work through this change and grieve related to the effects of COVID-19 on our lives. We just know it changes us, “reconfigures” us all!
It’s nature’s way of helping us adapt to our new reality.
And while this time in our history is terrible/scary/hard, take a bit of comfort in knowing we humans are biologically wired to adapt, to reconfigure.
Even our United States’ leaders!
Polly Jantzen

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