I believe that in times of crisis we often must go through the first four stages of grief as outlined by Elizabeth Kubler Ross before we can come to a place where we are able to consider a way forward. In the age of Coronavirus these have been my five steps.
- Denial. The virus is only in China, it’s no worse than the flu, I’m not going to let fear stop me from living my life.
- Anger. You can’t stop me from doing what I want to do! I have freedoms. This is _______’s fault. (Many people appear to be stuck here currently.)
- Bargaining. OK, I’ll wear a face mask and wash my hands, and then I get to go for a run.
- Depression and hopelessness. This is never going to end. I’ll be stuck in my house until the end of time.
- Acceptance and finding meaning. After all, Jupiter (the search for meaning) is conjunct Pluto (destruction and transformation) throughout the year, and our ideas of what gives life meaning are going to keep shifting.
Once we get to the point where we are ready to let go of Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Depression we are ready to find a way to look for meaning in the tragic event, whatever it is. Many things in life are beyond our control and trying to fight or resist the reality offers no solution to help us move forward towards something approaching a sense of peace or even happiness in a difficult situation.
The sense of acceptance is a critical piece to allowing us to find meaning in crisis or tragedy. The helplessness at stage four can lead to a sense of hopelessness, or it can lead to the peace of surrender. We are dealing with Pluto after all – the power of Pluto is creative destruction that can’t be manipulated. We can’t fight it, we can’t change it, we can’t control it.
Pema Chodron has shared three practices in her book Three Methods for Dealing with Chaos which I see as being paths for the mind, the heart, and the soul, The first is to cease the struggle over things we can’t control (the mind). This is the step of acceptance in which we let go of the story and begin to see things as they are, and not as we want them to be. Step two is to “use poison as medicine” – to awaken our feelings of compassion for others who are also suffering (the heart). Step three is to view every situation as “enlightened wisdom.” The world is sacred, and every experience contains an awakening and a path to understanding (the soul). Darkness and light coexist in the earth school, and the journey from darkness to the light is the path each of us must follow in this earthly existence. ❤️