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  • Writer's pictureJeanette Prather

Permission to Mourn

I recently wondered why I haven't been able to shake this melancholy-infused dark cloud that I've been dragging around for nearly four months. That was, until today.

As the world has dramatically shifted all around us, I realize that I haven't properly mourned. I haven't allowed myself to mourn my old lifestyle, although it came to a screeching halt followed by what seems to be a slow death approaching summer.

The seven stages of grief, according to Google, begins with shock and denial. "This is a state of disbelief and numbed feelings," writes Yes, continue... then, it's followed by pain and guilt. I concur. After this, it's anger and bargaining, evidently this can come in many forms, including trying to negotiate away the negative feelings with a higher power. Ok, done. Next is depression, which I think we can use synonymous with "SIP" and "self-quarantine." After this, says there is an upward turn, one of which brings in a sense of peace and calm. I certainly went through this; I've picked up meditation! Reconstruction and working through must be where I am now, understanding that life as we know it is going to look very different for a very long time. I'm also going back to my roots of writing and dance as staples to pull me through and maintain healthy habits; forming new rhythms and routines that include working out and meditations. Apparently, the last stage in the seven stages is acceptance and hope. I would LOVE to think that I'm approaching this, especially after these treacherous past four months.

But as I've moved through these different stages of grief from working so hard to create this wonderful, pre-COVID lifestyle that came crashing to a halt with no foreseeable resolution (I mean, I was in the live entertainment, event and experiential marketing arenas, all of which have virtually gone extinct except for the quite literal "virtual event" of which my colleagues and I are SO burned out on), I now realize I wasn't allowing myself to do one huge, tremendous thing for myself. I wasn't allowing myself to mourn the quite abrupt loss of my former life. Like a loved one who passes quickly in the night, this rug that was our "life before" has been pulled so swiftly out from under us, leaving us -- or, me at least -- with this lacking, a void I'm not sure how to fill, or even if I want to fill, yet.

However, unlike when a loved one passes, I didn't allow myself to mourn. I need to mourn. I need to cry every once in a while that I probably won't perform in public during 2020. That Santa Cruz's poor little children's museum has been sitting there, dark for four months while our community doesn't have an indoor facility to safely laugh and play in, not to mention any work for its employees, potentially including myself. That my children haven't visited a jungle gym, monkey bars... a park at all for four months, glue in our pre-COVID outdoor recreation lives. That Stellaria Creative Company, my very curated and slow-roasted artisan of an experiential (literally meaning an experience, to experience) marketing and live events, entertainment and theatrical company that I've been crafting for seven years (!) and FINALLY was able to finely define, won't be realizing any of the plans, shows or concepts that I had in store for the company, indefinitely. That the concept of an in-person schooling system could put people in danger or at risk of exposure to a potentially killer virus. That there is such a deep divide and historical Trojan Horse of primitive mindsets that society has to try and unravel as we march into a very questionable future. That true leaders are nowhere to be found while deceiving millionaires put themselves on pedestals. All of that needs processing and mourning.

Yes, this is all very real and all very sad. I need to mourn, to let the heaviness of reality weigh in and process the residual emotions. Multiple PSAs have declared that "it's ok not to be ok right now," a concept that I've subscribed to. But why have I been carrying around this idea that mourning the loss of my very full, fun, crazy, busy, wonderful former life wasn't ok?

Well, today I've given myself permission to mourn, and if you're anything like me in useless shouldering of such a massive load, here's permission to mourn. I hope you find it helpful in moving through the grieving of your former life and healthily find you on the other side in acceptance and hope.

You have permission to mourn.

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