• Helen

Acknowledging the pain In Between

During the first exhausting, confusing months of motherhood I would whisper to myself “When things get back to normal”. It was a hypnotic chant to keep pushing on. It was a message to Self that this situation was a temporary blip and that my normal life was just around the corner.

But one afternoon, struggling to think straight it hit me, like it or not, this was my new normal and the truth lay in a sprawling mess around me. And in that moment my relationship to motherhood and to myself took a seismic shift. I stopped fighting for it all to be something else and started to walk in step with this new normal. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like it, but I gave myself permission to mourn the loss of the old me, my previous life and my previous freedom, and own the new one.

In recent months I’m sure you’ve been part of a 'back to normal post Covid-19' conversation. The wondering if it will return to normal or what the new normal will look like and when it will arrive. Passionate discussions with pessimists and optimists, introverts and extroverts, socialists and economists, scientists and storytellers, the caring and the carefree.

This week I met Allard de Jong an advocate of remote team working, who mentioned that a lot of people were hurting right now which took me by surprise and got me thinking. What if this Covid Cautious lifestyle today is our new normal? Neither 2019 nor lockdown. Neither super high risk nor close to zero risk. Nothing is permanent and nothing is clear. We are living in the In Between.

Are we unwittingly struggling to accept that we have entered the early stages of loss of what was and struggling to accept life today in the In Between?

There are five well defined phases of loss. It starts with denial until we realise it is the situation, we then get angry and look for someone or something to blame. When anger doesn’t change the situation we pin our hopes on bargaining and when that doesn’t make a difference, we experience a period of depression and finally we arrive at acceptance.

That’s a lot of pain and hurt for one person to experience and we are potentially doing it on an international scale. What conversations would we start having or perhaps more interesting, stop having with our family, friends and colleagues, if we truly accepted this In Between is possibly our new normal? Now that I think about it, if this In Between zone is how it's going to be for the foreseeable future I'm probably skipping around in Denial phase right now.

As leaders and influencers what questions should we be asking ourselves and our people in order to own their unique feelings of loss so they can begin their journey to acceptance of their new future? And what space are we creating at work and home for all this to happen?

If you are beginning to see signs of mourning and loss in your organization, let's discuss 'what now?'.

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