Grief and the Coronavirus – by Ann Cecil-Sterman

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We’re in what is for many a very confusing time. As Chinese Medical practitioners, we know that viruses (Wind-Cold) are agents of change. They come in and elicit anywhere from minor to utterly devastating change. And we know, since Chinese Medicine is applied Chinese philosophy, that these changes are a part of human evolution, that there will be changes in the psyche, the body, society, community, tradition, structure, growth, and decay. We know that these changes are necessary for our evolution, that this is not the end of the world, and that without change we cannot go forward. And we know that if we had kept going the way we were, we would have destroyed our home, earth. Our treatments are underscored by the understanding that Destiny, (which is Divine), is in play.

But what about the pain of loss in this epidemic? What about our friends, colleagues, family, acquaintances, neighbors, store keepers, waiters, cemetery workers, checkout people, healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, transit workers, drivers, firemen, front line people who are deeply ill, or dying or dead? What about the grief and sadness, the terrible feeling of loss? How can we reconcile knowing this is part of the Divine plan with the incredible sadness we feel?

I like to make divisions to help myself come to grips with this type of issue. I like to divide the human being into four parts: the spirit, the body, the mind, and the human spirit. We are each a spiritual being, a portion of the Godforce, if you like. We are given a body in which to be animated, and as we grow, we develop a mind. The mind’s focus is to work out how to carry out the spirit’s mandate, or one’s life’s path. A person’s life is for carrying out the spirit’s mission, which could be anything at all in the realms of learning or contribution.

The spirit doesn’t have emotion, it just has a mission. Once the spirit is in a human body, there is another component in the picture, and that is the human spirit.  The human spirit is unique in that it loves and cares deeply about the safety of its own body and the freedom of its heart, but it also loves and cares deeply about the bodies and freedom of the hearts of every human on the planet. It’s the part of us that enjoys ourselves and enjoys others. It’s the part of us that experiences joy and that likes to have fun with other people.

The human spirit is deeply hurt when it sees other people in distress or hurt in any way. The human spirit’s health is a marker of sanity. It’s easily damaged by errors in upbringing, when sadly it is taught that not everybody can be loved. A person who doesn’t feel anything when another human is hurt is not completely sane.

So as we are treating people, in whatever form we’re using at this time, as healers, we must stay clear in two distinct sets of  feelings: one set of feelings that understands with crystalline clarity that this is natural, that the change we are undergoing is essential; we treat but we do not fight.

And then there’s another set of feelings that includes a profound sadness for the untold loss we’re experiencing, the loss of people, the loss of family members and friends, the loss of health, the loss of work, the disruption of our whole way of living.

If we can keep the two sets of feelings clearly present in our minds at the same time, we can stay clear and calm in the treatment room. As practitioners and as spirits, we are steadfastly in alignment with the change that is occurring; we don’t resist the change the virus is unfolding, but as human spirits, we grieve mightily the deaths, the losses, the pain, the distress, the longing, the waste, the dreams unfulfilled, the lives brutally and painfully cut short by actual suffocation. Both sets of feelings must be present in the room at the same time. This is what it is to be human: to know that things are as they are because that is how they are, and at the same time to feel fully what is in the hearts of our fellow beings without holding back, without looking for relief from those feelings, to feel it in every cell, and then to be stewards of the next chapter.

Connecticut, USA.

Practice like nothing else matters because everything does.

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