on March 17, 2020

Times have certainly changed, but there are some things that have remained the same. Birthdays still happen on the same day every year, anniversaries persist and holidays will be there no matter what. So it begs the question: With all of this scary and unknowable change, is it OK to feel sad during special occasions?

In the midst of working from home (or having to go into work) and homeschooling and not seeing your friends and being eerily aware of how often you wash your hands and maybe watching people get sick around you and listening to the news, what's really happening is grief. Some of us are grieving for the loss of normalcy and the anxiety that lives just beneath the surface of each day. Others are grieving because they've just lost someone or they can't work from home and must sit holding their stress inside all day long. There are so many personal reasons to grieve right now, and that process takes time.

"We need to move through the pain of loss. We need to step into it, really get to know it, in order to learn how to live with it," according to Elisabeth Kugler-Ross and David Kessler in their book On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. "In essence, that's what grief is. It's the opening up to the exquisite pain of absence. It's the moment when you stop trying to to move on or change how much it hurts, and just let it out."

While holidays are typically a time of reflection, they can seemingly magnify that feeling of grief. There's a good chance your dinner table looked very different at this time a year ago. There were likely more people sitting around it. There's a good chance you spent the morning hugging neighbors and picking up your go-to sides and desserts from your favorite local spots. And it's so completely and utterly valid to feel sad that, this year, might become very memorable but for, what feels like, all the wrong reasons.

Anyway, this is all to say that if you've been feeling down and beating yourself up about it, just don't. This is hard. There is no handbook for how to parse through all of these new emotions that the world is collectively grappling with. It's ok to feel however you feel and to let the others close to you do the same. And when you're ready to let it out, it'll happen and that will be a small thing to celebrate.

Be sure to listen to this episode of The MomForce Podcast for more tips on working from home, or if you just want real moms sharing their real struggles.