It needs no saying. But, this time it’s different. The pandemic is not just haunting images in newspapers or television sets or on our mobile screens. It’s on phone calls, and WhatsApp messages from relatives and friends. There’s a sense that it’s knocking on our doors, if it’s not already inside. As our colleague Kavi Arasu pointed out during one of our daily conversations, “okay so far” is a phrase that we hear with a disturbing regularity.
We started looking for some guidance, suggestions, advice for our own sake, because each one of us is feeling the same stress, and then it struck us that it will be useful for our community too.
1. Handling grief: Listening, patience and routines
In his blog post on How to Handle Grief, Kavi Arasu offers a few lessons. “No, not a formulaic prescription. For grief is too difficult a devil to be contained into a formula. These are perspectives from my experience for your consideration,” he writes.
Listen. Listen more. Listen even more. It helps other people to talk, to cry and to share.
Practice patience. Resist giving advice. Any advice and general comments on life do not help. Staying patient and venturing with tenderness and compassion into areas where the other person wants to go helps.
Develop new routines, rituals and doing things in remembrance of the departed. It can be photographs. A playlist of the departed’s favourite songs.
2. Handling anticipatory grief: Form groups. Make Plans
In her essay, What Is This Feeling? Anticipatory Grief (AG) and Other New Pandemic-Related Emotions, Esther Perel describes AG as the realization that we could lose our loved ones.
Firstly, remember that we don’t need to look at the bright side of things. That’s not the best way to cope with the crisis. Perel writes, “it’s those who cultivate an attitude of Tragic Optimism, a term coined by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist from Vienna, which refers to the ability to maintain hope and find meaning in crisis.” Tragic optimism is “the human capacity to creatively turn life’s negative aspects into something positive or constructive.”
Form groups: “Check on each other. Who has reached out to you out of the blue recently? Whom have you reached out to? Organize or join a meaningful group. Virtual groups are keeping us social, active, accountable, and are an incredible shared resource. Parents should talk to other parents. Children should talk to other children.”
Make advanced care plans: “One of the important things I’ve done recently with my husband and sons is to not just talk about other people dying, but to bring the conversation into our own family… This may seem scary but having a plan is going to help you with the many feelings you’re experiencing. Because it creates structure, you may find it surprisingly calming.”
- What Is This Feeling? Anticipatory Grief and Other New Pandemic-Related Emotions
- On Matters of Life & Death - Lavanya Mohan
3. Handling emotions: Use tech
Wysa, a mental health app, employs AI-guided listening with professional expert support, and has made all its tools free in India. We have featured it here earlier. Kuldeep Datay, clinical psychologist, recommended it along with Youper and Moodpath, saying these were “apps which clients have used and have largely been satisfied with.” More recently, Nachiket Mor called it a powerful and easy to use tool.
You can access it here. https://www.wysa.io/
Song for the day: Pozhudu Pularndhadhu
Subramanya Bharatiyar, poet and freedom fighter, passed away a hundred years ago, in 1921, when he was hardly 38, but his influence on Tamil literature and broadly culture continues to this day. Pozhudu Pularndhadhu, a song addressed to Mother India, asking her to wake up, is not one of his more famous songs. But like the rest of his oeuvre, has endured. No one has brought this particular song to life as well as Bombay Jayashree has done here.
What’s helping you get through these tough times? Send us the song, poem, quote that is your balm now. And we will share it through this newsletter.
And if you missed previous editions of this newsletter, they’re all archived here.
Bookmark Founding Fuel’s special section on Thriving in Volatile Times. All our stories on how individuals and businesses are responding to the pandemic until now are posted there.
Team Founding Fuel