Loss of innocence: When the world doesn't feel safe

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This weekly column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. List a first name that grants permission for printing.

Dear Dr. Ted:

I'm watching people become insanely fearful and angry over this coronavirus pandemic. Why do people get so wild about these things and should I be more nervous or fearful?

Thanks, Bob

Dear Bob:

Great question, and I'm not going to pretend I have the answers, but it would be worthwhile to try to find credible information to help protect you, your family and community.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted almost everybody in one form or another. As the virus has now moved into more than 145 countries including the United States, there is no longer the perception of safety that these types of things happen elsewhere and won't impact you.

As schools, churches, community gatherings, entertainment and other everyday events are taking action to help decrease the spread of the virus, you may feel parts of your everyday world being disturbed. There can also be a level of distancing when it is an intellectual or philosophical discussion but when people are truly becoming physically sick as well as dying, the reality of a difficult situation is poignant.

When your everyday perception of safety is upset, there is loss and within loss, there is a level of fear that can seep in as the world does not feel as safe. I often call this the loss of innocence as what you take for granted has been disrupted and your everyday routines have to be changed.

Fear can quickly turn into panic and panic can lead to radical behaviors. The hope is accurate information can be disseminated allowing for healthy action rather than panic behavior, due to fear and trying to regain a sense of safety. Quite often change is a level of destruction and destruction leads to chaos which leads to the opportunity of conscious reconstruction or pervasive chaos and fear.

Fear often derives from lack of information, which can lead to unhealthy isolation. As more information is gathered and levels of denial are diluted, people can take a moment, gather the data and make conscious decisions of how to help decrease the potential of high levels of danger and the spread of panic as well as sickness.

For this to happen people need to work together and be willing to step out of comfort zones and habits. Letting go of blame, rage and desperate behaviors and trusting as a world, country, state and community, we can be proactive, and working together will be the first step of recovery. What can happen right now is people can do what is known to be proactive such as trying to stop the spread of the virus.

Washing hands, decreasing large gatherings, cleaning areas that might be a go-between for the spread and also being understanding to places that feel they need to take action and change the way things have to be done.

Being conscious, gathering information, changing habits and working together - communities can move through this and have more wisdom for future global problems that will surely arrive down the line. Let's stay calm, take action where we can and do our best to decrease the spread of the virus without overreacting.

Thank you for bringing this issue into the light. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat, at GWR@newmex.com.

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