Denial, Anger & Acceptance

How we are grieving with Covid-19

The catastrophic event of Covid-19 has sparked a mass cycle of emotional turmoil. Its resonance with the cycle of grief is indisputable.

An image of the cycle of grief in coloured writing on a black grainy background. Grief is written in big letters in the middle. And surrounding it are the other parts of the cycle of grief - Denial, Anger, Depression, Acceptance. Each word is linked to the next by an arrow.
The Model of grief by Kubler-Ross 1969

With the emergence of this killer disease a collective denial descended upon the world. There was inaction, inertia. We stuck our heads in the sands.

We ignored the signs and hoped it wouldn’t reach us. Work continued, groups gathered. We hugged, we kissed, we didn’t wash hands. We travelled freely, we went to classes, pubs, cinemas and theatres.

Slowly reality crept in as Covid-19 tightened its grip. Thousands were dying.

We bargained, tried to make it work, assessed the risks of meeting. Some decided it was safe to continue; others took early action.

Our livelihoods slowly slipped away, but we clung on hard. Angry at this disease, sometimes flipping back into denial, working hard to find a way around the inevitable shutdown.

Individually and collectively we circled around and around. And as a result, the disease spread inexorably.

With every new development, we’d adjust, assess, let go of small things, only to do the same a few days later. This on loop until our former beloved reality was gone. And there was nothing left.

A collage of 4 images showing the faces of people in distress - a white man with short hair holds his head in his hands; a brown skinned woman wearing a hijab gazes at us seriously; a little baby with short black hair and brown skin, looks at us crying; a little boy with pale skin, freckles and curly hair that falls over his forward looks down at the floor with a tear trickling out of each eye.


The perfect parallel in this cycle.

Handwashing, paranoia, anxiety and fear crawled into our lives, lodging happily in every house and head.

Now we judge people if they sneeze or cough. We look at everyone with suspicion. Most of us have started to heed the guidance on social distancing. Any transgression is met with loud tutting at best, shouting and aggression at worst.

Parents tell their kids to wash, wash, wash. No touching, keep away. Simultaneously trying to normalise this new apocalyptic world.

Some individuals have adapted instantly- accepting the new, new. Making changes, creating routines.

Some sink into despair. Frozen. Depressed. Crying for the loss of their businesses, their hobbies, their social lives, their freedoms.

Others just have no time. Forced into this new world. Swinging from public acceptance to private exhaustion. Witnessing death daily, but continuing to do the important and good work.

Finally we grieve. Finally we say farewell to the old and hallo to the new.

Families, businesses and individuals adapt.

We slow down. We make space. We form new habits.

We accept.

We appreciate the world in a different way. Notice small things, hug our children tightly. When we look outside of ourselves, we empathise, we can see how lucky we were compared to others.

A hopeful picture of a mountainous landscape as the sun rises in the distance.