I’ve had this familiar feeling inside all week, I’ve only truly experienced it once before in my life like this. For a split second when I wake up everything is OK then I get the feeling and it’s like I’ve been punched in the stomach and I want to pull the duvet back over my head and go back to sleep.
The discomfort I’m feeling is grief and I’ve learned from my experience grief isn’t just about death, it takes shape in many forms. Coronavirus first impacted me in February when my work started to get cancelled, I work in the events industry and it’s been completely wiped out and devastated by Coronavirus. I’ve been standing down staff, telling them their services are no longer required for quite a few weeks and the impact has been a burden on my own mental health. I know these guys, I know they’ve just had a baby or they’re planning a wedding and they no longer have an income to provide for their families and every time I made the call to say the job was no longer happening their future looked a bit darker. The worst part I was in denial and at first, I believed Coronavirus was a bad flu and I couldn’t understand why it was being given so much attention by the media and being allowed to destroy peoples lives and the world economy. The virus hadn’t reached us then, it was in China and the UK government wasn’t sending out clear messages or guidance to support our industry, it was meant to be business as usual but our events were being cancelled because the global brands were imposing travel bans on their staff and stopping them from gathering in groups.
As our diary eventually emptied to nothing for the foreseeable future and we accepted our plight, we closed our office and went home to stay. The Coronavirus was now in the UK and spreading, businesses were closing, schools had shut, the message was now loud and clear, stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the health service.
I’m facing many challenges adapting to this new way of living indoors but I’ve always enjoyed turbo training and Zwift so my cycling is OK. I’m choosing to spend my outdoors exercise ration with Savannah or walking if she doesn’t want to go out. I’ve also made a conscious decision, not to home school and I’ve told Savannah the school holidays started early. There’s enough to worry about right now so I’ve decided the extra stress of trying to be a school teacher and a pupil in a new environment was just too much for both of us and our wellbeing. I spent the first few days looking at Facebook groups for inspiration and stressed over other peoples timetables and perfect spaces set up in a cosy corner of homes with a desk, pen pot and learning pictures pinned up on the wall. We don’t have that. I have a child who’s mostly happy, motivated to learn, very sociable and loves being outdoors. She will actively engage in playtime with her toys, she will roleplay for hours and it gives her so much joy to do this especially if she’s out in the garden. We’ve always had a bedtime book and more recently she enjoys reading the book to me, the books are a mix of fiction and non-fiction and one of our favourites is an encyclopedia with a quiz page and she writes in her HappySelf journal at bedtime most days too. I ask her every day what day of the week it is and this helps me as much as it helps her. Technology is enabling her to stay in contact with all of her friends and I’m not stressing about screen time, I did hear her getting grumpy in a chat the other day so I took her away from it and she went to play in the garden instead. After a few hours, she returned to play with her friends online refreshed and renewed. Savannah’s very sporty and naturally competitive and it’s her ambition to be in the Olympics, she wants to race her bike and compete for her country one day. We went to our little bike park for our daily ration of exercise, it’s not an official park, it’s hidden away in the woods and has been built up over the years. It was started by my generation and has continued with new children taking it on with their shovels building jumps and carving out new sections of pump track. We had the place to ourselves so we were socially distanced by default. We set up a course and Savannah raced around it on her scooter to my commentary, I was shouting out her name as if she was in the Olympics being chased by the French and German competitors, she won the gold medal and at the moment she was full of hope, a survivor of what we are experiencing and living for tomorrow. We were not only making great memories and having fun but we were also planning for tomorrow. I learned a lot that day, most importantly of all I am doing enough.