In Blog posts by Charissa Balman

“The goal of grief is not to forget about the loss; rather, the goal is to remember the person, understand the changes created by the loss, and determine how to reinvest in life.”

We all have experienced and are experiencing real challenges that are incomprehensible.

2020 has shifted and recalibrated the world with this pandemic.

The loss on so many levels has been indescribable for me. The loss of lives, financial uncertainty and relationships imploding around me. There has been times this year where I questioned my own sanity due to the impact of this pandemic and how people around me and in society in general have chosen to behave.

Life is full of challenges. And, life is full of choices. We might not create the challenge; however, we do have a choice in how we manage a challenge. I have always embraced what comes my way with the attitude of finding my way through it and being grateful for the lessons I take away from the challenge.

The 2020 challenges I have encountered top the list when it comes to causing untold stress.

Loss affects us all in different ways. When we experience a loss, a very ancient reaction is triggered in our brain: the freeze, fight or flight response. My losses this year have left me feeling like my world has been turned upside down. Feelings of powerlessness, sadness, anger, and despair.

The biggest trigger for me is uncertainty. The pandemic is something that hit us all totally unexpected and forced everyone to a grinding halt. I’m a person who likes social interaction and connecting with others face to face, experiencing the sense of touch with a hug from a friend and experiencing the outdoors. All that was taken away without a choice.

Our strict lockdowns in South Africa immediately accelerated stress levels and income was stopped with immediate effect being self-employed. I was in the process of reinventing myself with a career change. We have had to navigate our way around one income into our household and grateful that my husband got creative with his work in the frontline. Universities closed and my son went online with making adjustments on many levels and embraced the challenge. Converting an on-campus experience to an online success.

Schools closing and causing havoc with my work, watching stress levels rising with children and for some the disappointment of not attending their final year milestones. Sport coming to a grinding halt and depression rising. People getting creative and starting to go online, feeling positive about family connection time. I would hear all the excitement but the reality was everyone was feeling trapped.

We are not naturally supposed to isolate at home and cut out connection with the outside world. The knock-on effect is there has been a dramatic rise in mental health issues, anxiety, relationships ending, people behaving irrationally and society becoming more outspoken and taking the law into their own hands.

I have been on the receiving end of irrational behaviour and bonds being severed, loss of family, financial loss and illness. My son having Covid19 and being immune compromised has brought its own stressors to me of feeling very vulnerable and on some deep level the fear of my own survival.

Our brains are naturally stimulated to take action, but since the loss cannot be undone, the layers of loss have made me realise how important it is to feel, acknowledge it and talk about it. I have also opened myself up into accepting support from family and friends which has humbled me.

I have carved out a space and given myself the opportunity to ALLOW the emotions of loss to unfold and experience the process of grief to be felt in order to heal.

The gift I take despite the hardships is I will move forward stronger, wiser and I will regain the strength to accept my new normality.

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.” – Steve Maraboli