Last week’s internet outage is an opportunity to examine how we handle loss and how we cope with grief.
The headlines, if you could see them, were about how there was a huge blackout across the country that disabled cell phones and television. How does this happen and where does it leave us when it happens? Did you have a moment of panic? Did you go through the pain in a way that you can now understand better? Last week’s blackout gives us a tangible way to better understand ourselves. Let’s see that!
I woke up that day, the day the world seemed dark, and looked at my phone. There it was, in the top right corner, the WIFI icon, and yet next to it were some dots and the phone message said “can’t connect to the internet”. Before I even got my butt off the bed, I knew something was wrong. Something was wrong.
Feeling: denial. When we can not believe that something has happened. Shock and surprise create in us the inability to believe, so we question. How can this be? This cannot have happened. I got up and went into the living room and looked at the modem and it was blinking orange. Hmmm, confirmation that something was wrong. Feeling: anger. No way! I can’t watch my morning show! This is a hit! What to do next. Where to go and to whom I shout? Should I call someone and complain? Sentiment: bargain. Expect! I will turn off WIFI on my phone and only use my data. There, WIFI off. Expect! It’s not working either…back to denial and anger. Emotions swirling through my body.
I put down the phone, took a breath and decided to make some coffee and reflect on this challenge. Something I take for granted and a part of my life that is always there is just gone. Without warning and without any possibility of preparation. I plug in the kettle and wait for the water to boil and reflect. What do I do after? I walk across the kitchen floor and listen to the kettle heat the water. Feelings: shock, denial, amazement, and anger work their way into sadness and depression. I feel a sense of sadness because I can’t watch my morning show. The routine of my life has been altered and, although not only altered, I am shocked by the change. A wave of apathy washes over me as if someone had poured warm oil on me, and as it slowly runs through my body, I think of all the things affected by this loss. I can’t check my bank balances, do I need cash at the store and how will I connect to the outside world? Feeling: I am invaded by confusion and lack of direction. I feel challenged even making coffee.
As the morning progresses and I get moving. I eat, shower and dress and many of the routine things of my day begin to unfold. I can do this. I move like a sloth through molasses. Moving slowly and carefully into this world I no longer know. I routinely reach for my phone, remote, and computer, only to be reminded in a tidal wave of reality, no internet/cable/WIFI. What is life without internet and cable? It sounds silly, however, they have infiltrated every part of daily life. Denial, shock, and apathy begin to morph into reality, and I think to myself, “what CAN I do?” I pick up my knitting and make a cup of tea. Feeling: Acceptance I must go ahead and figure this out. It will be OK!
And 24 hours later, slowly, the world comes back online. My life regains a semblance of normalcy and I realize that there were people who were not affected by this blackout, this death, and are unaware of me and my emotional roller coaster.
This may sound like an unusual way to look at the technological disruption we had last week, however it is a great way to see how we handle any loss in our life using an event that is separate from our hearts. We can see how we process each loss using our feelings and our moments of change. Analyzing this event will give you courage and strength to face the other losses in your life. Losses are harder on the heart and spirit. The loss of a mother, grandmother, uncle, pet or sibling. The loss of a father to dementia and the world of cognitive chaos. The breakup of a marriage, an argument with a best friend, or leaving a job either by choice or dismissal. Every day we have losses to deal with and when we understand the emotional process, we can navigate more easily.
What did I do? I had an Anne of Green Gables marathon, watching the DVDs that are gathering dust on my shelf. I was reminded of a time when telephones were not yet born, doctors appeared on horseback and in buggy, and Canada had not yet been signed, sealed and delivered. I watched as Anne searched for kindred spirits and dreamed of sleeping in a cherry tree at the train station waiting to be picked up. I went back to the imagination of window friends and church picnics.
While this technological disruption pushed us through the grieving process, it is a reminder that the simpler things in life are so important and how, without warning, life can change direction. Are you equipped to know the feelings and the process? It helps to be prepared emotionally, it’s actually more important than physically, what’s in your emotional emergency kit?
Cynthia Breadner is a teacher, author, grief specialist, and grief counselor; She is a soul care worker and offers specialized care in spiritually integrated therapies. She works as an LTC chaplain assisting with client and family end-of-life care. She is the mother part of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. She is available remotely using safe and secure video connections. If you have any questions, contact her today. [email protected] rompiendostibah.com