These are unprecedented times. Times when our normal has been replaced with abnormal. Our security has been replaced with insecurity. We are afraid for our physical and mental health. We’re afraid financially. We’re afraid we’ll never get our normal back. We’re sheltering at home. We stay in, we cancel plans, we don’t travel, we only shop for groceries. We get up early to shop to get our ration of toilet paper. We still haven’t found any hand sanitizer. Our children are home and we try to home school them. We go outside. We talk to neighbors from six feet away. We Zoom and Skype with our relatives and friends.

Sometimes, unfortunately, we get on each other’s nerves. We aren’t accustomed to so much together time with our people. We drive each other crazy. Some of us exercise all the time. Others drink all the time. And everyone seems to eat all the time (or at least that’s what they’re posting on social media). We wish it was over. So we wait. We simply exist. And we hope. And if we’re the praying kind, we pray. We pray for the end to this strange nightmare.

While we have added incessant handwashing to our daily routines, we have deleted many of our originally planned activities. Many of these events occur once in our lifetime. They won’t happen for us again. Dr. Jenn Hardy says, “It’s ok to grieve the loss of what you thought these next few months would bring. You don’t have to bear it all with a smile on your face” (source: Grieving the loss of your wedding, a family vacation, your graduation or your senior prom would seem to be along the same lines as grieving the loss of a loved one. These losses may not seem like the worst losses in the world, but that is not for us to judge. We cannot judge another’s pain. The point is that this is hard. The losses of events we’ve planned for years and the inability to make alternative plans seem insurmountable. And we mourn more than just the loss of milestone events. Small losses are difficult too. Not hugging our friends and families, not meeting them for lunch or coffee or happy hour is hard. We are sad and sometimes we’re angry.

With the loss of my daughter to suicide, I know a little bit about grief. And I think many of us are experiencing just that during this time. It is painful, confusing and it lasts a long time. Grief is not linear. You can be completely devastated one day, and be back to normal the next. Grief should be acknowledged and identified for what it is. Grief is different for everyone and it causes different emotions in different people. No two people will share the exact same grieving experience. Grief is real. Support yourself by reaching out to people who care about you. Better yet, call a professional. Most are offering virtual sessions.

Finally, keep in mind that however you are handling this unusual time, keep doing your best. Because your best is always good enough. Hang in there, this will end. It may not be soon. And it may not be back to the way we were before, but we will get through this. And while we’re at it, let’s try to make the most of it. Take care of yourself. Take care of others. Be kind. And remember that it’s OK to acknowledge your sadness, your grief and your anger. But it’s never OK to be mean. Kindness has never been more important. In the end, how we treated each other will be all that really mattered anyway.

Toni Plante grew up in Wayzata. She lives in Minnetonka with her husband, Al, and their two dogs. Her remaining child, Leo, lives in NYC. She, her family and extended family all miss Ana terribly. Suicide prevention and mental health are her passion. She is not a therapist or a counselor. She is a parent who is committed to making a difference by sharing her experience.

This column is meant to offer insight and awareness, not advice. If you have suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.


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