Moms Are Angry and That's OK. It's a Stage of Grief.
We're grieving the loss of normal and, right now, we're all pretty mad about it.
If you've been anywhere near social media lately, you've probably seen your fair share of cutesy pandemic lockdown pictures–the ones where the kids are all smiles, engaged in learning, in an Instagram perfect reading nook. But chances are you've seen the opposite as well. Posts from moms figuratively throwing the isolation-school lesson plan out the window, throwing their hands up, and turning on the TV for their kids. Lots of moms are mad right now. Mad at the world, mad at coronavirus, mad at the school system, mad at their kids and their partners. Just mad. At everything.
And you know what? That's OK.
There's a lot to be mad about right now sure, but anger is also one of the recognized stages of grief and it looks like we're all hitting it right about now.
First, there was shock: We couldn't believe this was really happening. Are they really closing schools? Are we really going to have to stay home? We saw cities shutting down across the country but when lockdown came to our towns we were surprised. How could this be happening in 2020 in the United States?
Then denial: Surely it won't be too long. I bet the kids will be back to school in no time. This virus is no big deal, let's all go out to eat, I bet it'll be easy to get a table.
Now, we're firmly in the anger stage where we're all just collectively mad at our circumstances. We've realized that we're in it for the long haul, that things won't be going back to normal any time soon, and we're more than a little upset. How are we supposed to work from home, teach our kids, sanitize everything from the groceries to the mail to the bottom of our freaking shoes, keep everyone in the family from getting sick, keep the kids from killing each other, cook every single meal, and keep the house from becoming a toxic waste dump? How?
"We are all in collective grief right now and are showing various emotional reactions to what we are experiencing. Generally, we lack collective practices to help us release grief. In my opinion, this is one reason why grief and sadness tend to go 'underground.'" explains Sherry Cormier, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor emeritus at West Virginia University and bereavement specialist. "Once we start having more open discussions about the losses we are currently all experiencing, and support one another in our feelings of sadness and sorrow, we have a better opportunity of transforming grief into growth."
It helps that we're seeing a lot of other people be angry though. It lets us know that we aren't alone, that we aren't outliers, that we aren't the only ones who aren't handling all this very well. This is hard and we have every right to be angry.
"There is so much uncertainty and fear," explains Dr. Cormier. "What we need to remember is that underneath our anger and overwhelm may be a certain sadness and loss of hope about our present and future paths. The present conditions are challenging for many parents and families and the future is unknown. All of us are losing someone or something during this pandemic event. Once we go deeper and acknowledge our sadness, often the anger lessens."
So be angry moms, be angry and know it's healthy. It's a normal response to losing the life you had just two months ago, the control you had just two months ago, and to the feeling of normalcy you had just two months ago. Be mad and know that we're all out here mad right along with you. You're not in this alone.