It’s ok to grieve for losses (yes, even the small ones)

Missing hugs? The days when you don’t need to wear a mask? You are not alone.

HopeMail Issue #113 | HopeMail is a newsletter about life lessons I’ve learnt or reflected upon recently. Plus my drawing, the occasional comic and poem. If a friend shared this with you, and you'd like to subscribe, c'mon in.

Hi there,

I’ve been feeling kinda in a funk these two weeks.

Scratch that. I’ve been feeling like that since March 2020 till now. Having that in a funk feeling coming and going in different degrees of intensity. 

With the recent surge in the daily COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, the memory of the first lockdown—where I can’t get out from my balcony-less condo to walk around the neighbourhood for some fresh air and sanity—became an imagined threat to me. Where walking around the condo’s compound could risk some zealous neighbours’ whistle-blowing, and cops a coming. What if the government implemented the same thing again? A feeling of dread looms over me. 

That being said, I don’t relate to the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition of in a funk, “to be very unhappy and without hope". Brothars and sistas, I have hope. I am hopeful. Being hopeful does not make one immune to sadness, though.

I relate more to the Urban Dictionary’s definition, “temporary sadness. Feeling sad and down. Almost like you’re missing something but don’t know what it is.” There you are, “like you are missing something”. Do you have that feeling of something is amiss but you haven’t pinpointed what is it?

It was what I felt when I stepped into a nearby local restaurant to *pick up our food. My heart quietly sank, as I absorbed what I saw—where the tables were once used for happy diners and hearty meals; the tables are now pushed aside, stacked with upturned chairs. The air was warm; the air-conditioner was switched off to save electricity bills. “How’s (the takeaway, delivery) business?” I asked the cashier, trying to sound hopeful and respectful. He shook his head and said, “It’s bad. We manage to have only RM200 (around USD48) sales today.” 

I counted the number of staff working there, with the rental, the costs of materials, the wastage of food unsold. How are they gonna survive?—I asked the question which many small businesses are asking. 

Black and white ink drawing (line drawing) showing a silhouette of a man, inside an empty restaurant. He’s standing in front of his restaurant’s door, head and shoulder drooping down, looking lost. On his right, there’s a counter table overlooking the restaurant window. On the table, there’s are two upturned chairs. There are two nice-looking pendant lamp hanging from the ceiling, on top of the counter table. At the right-hand corner of the drawing, there’s another upturned chair, but seen only partially. The feeling is of loss, sadness, almost bleakness.
It’s heartbreaking to draw this. Even though I drew this not based on the restaurant I went to pick up my food, it’s a good visual representation of the bleakness in the situation.

It was what I felt when I lost the freedom to step into any premises without being scanned, beeped, tracked. It was felt when I couldn’t freely meet up with my friends. Couldn’t hug them when we can meet. Simple, basic things we hardly think about—until they are taken away.

And so, I was in and out a funk. Not sure if I’m supposed to feel this way when other people’s losses were catastrophic. 

Over the past year, I’ve never really talked about how the pandemic is affecting me. Instead, I’m managing it with a combination of these things:

I’ve never really talked about it because I felt guilty feeling the loss, in comparison with the bigger losses of some other people. But more so because, I don’t feel safe talking about it, as people might invalidate my feelings by measuring my losses with others. 

As if, there’s a measuring system for losses.

It was only when I learnt there’s this thing called disenfranchised grief, I could fully identify with what’s going on, feeling what I’m feeling. Disenfranchised grief is the name for grief that isn’t acknowledged. 

“People don’t feel like they have the right to grieve,” said Lisa S. Zoll, a licensed clinical social worker in Lemoyne, Pa., who specialises in grief counselling.  “A year into this, the losses are piling up. I just had this conversation in my office when this person said, ‘I can’t complain about my grief, because people have it worse.’ But we have to correct that thinking. Your grief is your grief. You can’t compare it to other people’s.” - Excerpted from “It’s OK to Grieve for the Small Losses of a Lost Year, by Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times”.

This brilliant (may I say, sanity-saving) article brought me loads of comfort. And has given me a rational understanding of what I’m going through. If you are feeling in a funk too, here’s the article to read— It’s OK to Grieve for the Small Losses of a Lost Year. You are welcome.

🎧 Music: listen to this on YouTube

I find this song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” comforting. 

Bridge Over Troubled Water (lyrics)
Words and music by Paul Simon

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
Oh when times get rough
And friends just can't be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part
Oh when darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on, silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh if you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

I hope this issue of HopeMail gives you some comfort in what you might be going through. Feel free to share this week’s issue to help others in a similar situation.


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Next issue coming up on June 11. I might write something about fathers, fatherhood, seeing that it’s the Father’s Day weekend. I don’t know, let’s see. Check your inbox. Take care and see ya. 

*Please try bringing along your own containers for takeaway food. Let’s reduce single-use plastic waste and do our part to help stop our earth from melting down. 

HopeMail is essays, drawings, poems and curated links on our everyday, often not-together-life. Candid, reflective, with a sprinkling of humour. Kinda like those good conversations with friends. It’s published twice a month, on the 1st and 3rd Fridays. If you are not yet a subscriber, subscribe and receive this newsletter in your inbox. 

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