Good morning, I’m writing from my home to yours in the midst of this pandemic. Here in Washington DC, we are about a month into the crisis with a solid three weeks of sheltering in place and isolation. As a business woman, psychotherapist, and mother of three, I spent the first few weeks responding to the crisis by ensuring that all of “my people” were well cared for. I set up new systems and plans for our home and my family. I funnelled support and reassurance to our therapists who rapidly transitioned their clients to virtual sessions and created plans to care for their own families. I ensured the stability of the business. I created new virtual programs (click here to see offerings) to support our clients in the midst of the crisis. And then I looked up and out and around and surveyed the crisis that we all find ourselves in.
First, I want to share how I’m drawing upon my extensive experience working with crises to understand this current situation. I’m using two theories—Kubler-Ross’s 5 Stages of Grief and The 6 Stages of A Crisis over Time. Please see the inserted links on the two stage theories, and the chart below where I’ve identified important NEEDS for both coinciding stages.
|KUBLER ROSS’S STAGES of GRIEF
6 STAGES of CRISIS
INFO & CLEAR LIMITS/COMMUNICATIONS
CONTAIN/CONTROL SUPPORT & STORY-TELLING
COORDINATED CHOICES AND “LETTING-GO”
LISTENING, CLEAR CHOICES & OPTIONS
While the two stages may not not flow perfectly in a linear fashion for each of us, they can offer a path forward as we deal with our feelings and our actions in the midst of this crisis. As you can see, both of these stages can coincide. Why is that? Because loss is inherent in any crisis. Life is altered~things change~and we go through emotional experiences that we must move through in order to adapt to the crisis. Let’s walk through the stages.
When we first learned of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and then Italy and Spain, most of us in DC were first having some level of disbelief or denial. Until we learned more, we struggled to imagine how it would impact our daily lives. And then it did! In the early stages of sheltering at home, many of us experienced our own and our children’s anger, in which they were rebelling against home isolation. They complained; they fought us; they bargained for contact with their friends; and eventually they accepted the terms of our new–hopefully temporary–reality. Just as we’ve needed to contain the virus through isolation, we’ve needed to help our children contain and control their reactions and feelings about this Crisis stage.
I also have witnessed in my sessions and zoom meetings with other professionals that we all need some level of witnessing or storytelling of our experiences, which occurs in the
Bargaining stage of grief. We need to tell our stories in order to craft a path forward. We need human connection in order to have thoughtful purposeful meaningful action.
Throughout this time, you might have noticed how you’ve naturally taken steps to help yourself, your family and your businesses cope with the crisis. I know that I did. Over the past month, I’ve worked hard to keep everyone safe and secure. Yet, I found myself at a standstill over the past week where I just needed to feel sad about our situation. I resisted it at first. Yet, I was reminded that I need to move through the sadness and despair in this crisis in order to accept our current reality, and then move on to make thoughtful plans for the future. The Recovery stage is important to note. As we are in the midst of this crisis and trying to move forward, we have to allow “a coordinated letting go” of certain expectations and demands in order to devise plans for our families and futures that make sense.
In the final stages of Acceptance and Follow-up, we need human connection in order to take thoughtful purposeful meaningful action. I believe that will require part acceptance and part action, but can’t succeed without some level of co-existence between the two. In this stage, we will rely on the act of listening to each other and clear choices/options for our families, our businesses and our communities.
Let me share the following—TSG therapists are specially trained to deal with crises. Every one of our therapists has extensive experience and specialized training in treating families in crisis–we’ve trained in acute hospitals, we’ve worked with severe trauma, we’ve de-escalated serious conflicts, we’ve served on crisis response teams, and much much more. As the Director of TSG, I recruit and hire only therapists who’ve worked with “the hardest of the hard” situations. Why? Because I want our families to be able to count on our therapists when it really matters. Now is one of those times~Please reach out to your loved ones, your mentors and your therapists during this difficult time. Therapists are supporting people all over the nation during this crisis. If you need further support, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find a therapist for you or your family.