5 Stages Of Lockdown (Grief)
By Anna Dugdale
‘Lockdown’ is a word that was non-existent to our vocabulary up until 2020, so how has it become part of our daily conversation to say that we’re slowly coming out of our third Lockdown, a year after when it first began. In the lockdowns that the UK has faced so far, we have experienced different stages, comparable to those of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. Let’s take a look at how these stages have applied to our lockdown journey.
Traditionally, the stage of denial helps you deal with the pain of the loss, which in this case, was the life we lead before Lockdown. At the beginning of Lockdown 1.0, we experienced a sense of naivety, believing that it would be over within a few weeks, and everyday life would resume by Easter. It was easy to confront it this way, considering we had little knowledge of how national lockdowns would persist and how difficult many of us would find it. But after basking in a summer with fewer restrictions and convincing ourselves that life was returning to ‘normal’, it was difficult to comprehend being back in another Lockdown by Christmas. Let alone, now that the end date is predicted to be June the 21st. Will it be a repeat of the Christmas cancellations?
Using denial to keep your emotions at bay can only go so far before anger presents itself. Once you get past the initial novelty of having time off from work or school and having the freedom to finally catch up with your favourite shows, the realisation of not being able to live your life as usual creeps in. We begin to attribute blame upon government figures or family members that are undeserving of this. As a university student, I have persistently remained in this stage throughout. I continue to feel disregarded by the government, accompanied by the anger I feel at the general mishandling of the pandemic. Lectures online aren’t the same, I haven’t had traditional in person teaching for almost a year, and I haven’t been able to socialise with the people I want to. As reality sets in regarding the return to everyday life, a newfound anger comes in the form of realising what we missed because of the pandemic.
The bargaining stage of grief tends to accompany desperation. You may have experienced this if you have felt any form of loss during the pandemic, whether that be mourning the loss of a loved one, the breakdown of a friendship or simply the loss of the life you lived, pre-pandemic times. We begin to acknowledge that being in lockdown may last longer than first expected, so we try to bargain with ourselves by finding loopholes and adjusting to previous routines, such as bargaining visitation of our loved ones for the price of the safety of ourselves and others. Now, we bargain by adhering to restrictions for a while longer, knowing we have an end date to work towards.
The heaviness of the anger and the helplessness of bargaining dissipate, and the lull of depression will set in. Adjusting from the fast-paced hustle and bustle of life to being put on pause gives us time to reflect that we would not usually have, allowing the opportunity to bask in these overwhelming changes. You may find yourself experiencing isolation and feeling drained but it’s completely normal under the circumstance. Sadness is a feeling that most people will have felt at least once throughout lockdown, and to me, is one of the most challenging emotions to process. Personally, I would’ve been going on holidays in the summer, finishing off my first year of university on a high and having those experiences robbed from me filled me with sadness. Some might feel a sadness towards what may be post-pandemic life and the uncertainties and changes it may impact.
Regardless of the situation that we’re in, our coping mechanism is to accept our fate and face reality. You may have decided to make the best of a bad situation, but it’s not easy to confront. It’s completely normal to feel sadness still at this stage, but the previous stages of grief are no longer present. This is certainly a stage that I am reaching, but having accepted the situation, I have decided it is up to me to look after myself during the pandemic. I had to accept that I wasn’t going to spend my summer with my friends, that I wasn’t able to go back to university to finish my first year the way I wanted. But, as the news on Covid-19 seems to be looking up, it’s easier to accept the disasters that occurred out of lockdown and we can finally begin to look forward.