We lost so much when COVID came to town. We lost a sense of normal. We lost jobs. We lost connection, agency, our sense of safety and invincibility. We lost loved ones. Sometimes we lost hope.
And so, we grieve. We need to grieve. It’s a lot to lose and to have to rebuild.
I read once that life is a series of birth, death, and resurrection – over and over again. I see the truth in that, even without COVID. Sometimes it’s not easy to be human. And sometimes it’s really, really hard. There’s no sugar-coating it. And often there’s no one to blame when things get hard. There’s only hind-sight and the lessons we may learn to move forward in a better way the next time.
Life is beautiful and hard and tragic, and we can’t change that. It never was promised to be perfect or easy. Yet we forget that it’s normal for bad things to happen sometimes. It’s simply part of life. It is imperfect. It is a spectrum of tremendous joy and tremendous pain, and a single moment can change the place we are standing. A friend of mine said, “There are no knights on white horses to save us, it’s up to all of us to find our part and do our part.” In that message there is empowerment and agency and purpose – things we need to live full lives.
As much as we want to protect our children, and should to a large degree, we also need to prepare our charges with the best tools to handle struggle in their own lives. We have an opportunity to support and to teach. Our children will see us and know that life gets difficult. We will teach them creativity and resilience. We will demonstrate care and respect by how we move forward. They will learn that we really don’t have a lot of control over what happens, but that doesn’t make us powerless. While we can’t control the circumstances of our lives, we can control who we are in those circumstances, and that is our superpower. Who will we be and how will we be part of the solution?
We need to celebrate too, even in times of such intense grief. Because of COVID, we found new, creative ways to connect. We changed our priorities. We learned to be grateful for those things we had that we didn’t see before- for a hug, a handshake, lunch with friends, and sending our children to school. There is no going back to normal. Normal was convenient, but it needed work too. Now we are faced with the hope and opportunity of building a new and better normal.
So, as we continue to build our new normal, may we all grieve what we lost without hate or blame. May we realize that life is an experiment, and every moment is one we’ve never been in before. Sometimes we’ll get it right on the first try and sometimes we’ll swing and miss. But we get to try again. That goes for all of us. That’s where we can give ourselves and others grace. It’s not easy, being human and almost everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have.
Buddha said that life has 10,000 sorrows and 10,000 joys. I like how my friend says this. She says, “In life, there are 10,000 sorrow and 10,000 joys. The sorrows will find you. You must look for the joys.” I call those joys grace. And grace is everywhere.
Image: Copyright: jirsak
This article will soon be published in the Oregon Law Review, Vol. 93, 911. Thanks to the review for permission to republish. INTRODUCTION In 1970, some forty-five years ago, Steven...By James Melamed, J.D.