Quarantine Somatic Journal #2: On Stillness and the Beginnings of Grief

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We are in the calm before the storm: The beginning of the end, the beginning of loss.  I feel such heaviness today, the beginnings of a grief that has not yet found its object.  In the first few days of self-quarantine, I felt manic energy, and almost unbearable restlessness: To move, to go outside, to accomplish things, to maintain some kind of dynamic movement, the structure of a full and busy life.  Today, there is lethargy, sinking, the weight of sadness sinking in, like rain slowly soaking through a paper bag full of oranges.

There has already been such great disruption in our lives: Our livelihoods, our ways of being together.  I keep hearing the same question over and over, in the news, on social media, from my friends, inside myself:  How long is social distancing going to last?  When is the curve going to flatten? When are we going back to normal? Dear ones.  We are not going back to normal.

Yes, I do imagine that someday I will leave this apartment again.  Someday, we will be able to meet in our homes again, talk face to face again, touch again.  Someday, the planes might take off again, the hateful gears of the capitalist machine might start to grind at full speed again.  We might go to back to school, the office, travel, make plans for the future.

But that future won’t be the same one that we had before the virus.  The world I step back into won’t be the same one that I left.  There will have been so much loss: Lives lost to the virus, first and foremost, for now an uncertain number, a grief without shape.  And there will also be plans lost, time lost, money and resources lost.  Some people will have lost jobs and homes, though I hope not too many.  Some never had jobs or homes in the first place, and will have lost even more.  We will all have lost some part of our innocence, the part that lived in a world without pandemics, the part that didn’t fear an invisible angel of death passing by our doors, taking whoever it chooses.

Grief is a somatic opening, a transformation, and act of shape-shifting that we do in order to survive. We will miss what we used to be.  One of the most difficult pieces is not knowing what we’re going to become, what – or who – we are going to lose in the process. We only know there will be loss.

I breathe into the heaviness.  I let myself lie still.  In an hour, or tomorrow, or tomorrow’s tomorrow, I’ll get up, put clothes on, do yoga, answer emails, do community organizing.  Right now I surrender to the coming of loss.  I let it come; I have no other choice.  I surrender to grief’s unfolding, and still, I cling to life.

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