Loss is Change and Change is Loss

May 26, 2021

By Ken Barringer

Where were you when you got the news? Who did you hear it from? What was your initial reaction and did you have any variability of emotion (anxiety, relief, uncertainty, disbelief)? As you thought about it what memories came to mind? Was there anything you got nostalgic about? Anything you just wanted to wipe from memory? What was the weather like when you got the news? Where were you and what were you wearing?

Yes, these are questions I may ask someone when they found out an important person in their life died. These are also questions I have also asked people when they found out (for those of us here in Massachusetts) “Massachusetts reopening moved up to May 29th, all covid-19 restrictions are lifted.”

Loss is change and change is loss. Even when change is ‘for the better’ there is still a loss of what is known for something that has yet to be defined. We love stasis. In fact, we seem to thrive on stasis, even if what is static is not desirable. Predictability and familiarity can equal comfort.  

People have talked about their experience / feelings being similar on the day the locked down began in March of 2020 and the day the mask ban was lifted in May 2021. There was shock, questioning, uncertainty and issues of trust. Many fears and anxieties can arise from distortions in our thinking and not necessarily based on truths and realities. (as Mark Twain once said, “when I think back to the hardest times in my life I realize now that most of them never happened”). However, when a fear has been actualized it creates the possibility that it could happen again – and we get into protective mode. We need to acknowledge and own this in order to go forward into the new world or protective mode can limit our experience. 

Trauma, like loss (isn’t all loss traumatic to some degree?), is often thought of as something that happened in the past and thus its impact is limited to your past. However, trauma’s strongest effect can be in the present and future. I’d put the experience of the pandemic in this category. Let’s still be safe and celebrate. However, let’s also leave room to acknowledge all our feelings – whether they be joy or jitters.