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The 5 stages of working from home grief

By Chatter, on 3rd April 2020

As week 3 of working from home and week 2 of quarantine (and the delights of home-schooling) draw to a close, it feels like this week has felt quite flat compared to the initial adrenaline of trying to adapt to working virtually (and support some very full on recruitment) that dominated the first 2 weeks of this "crisis".

I don't know about the rest of you but right now I'm struggling. Struggling to keep motivated when every day feels identical. Struggling to keep my inner calm whilst coaxing 3 children to do their school work and trying to work full time alongside them. Struggling to find head space when I daren't step away from my emails during the working day in case I miss that one vital piece of work that will keep the business flourishing, and can't stop reading the endless cycle of memes on social media in my down time telling me how much worse the virus is going to get, how our economy if falling to pieces, how we'll be locked indoors for months and months. And I can't switch off my brain with a book or film as it's constantly spinning with thoughts of this very real disaster movie we're all living through.

I see colleagues and contacts across LinkedIn fired up with ideas and passion about how to make the most of all this extra time we have. And I'm just not feeling it. I'm exhausted with doing nothing and I would happily spend the next month under my duvet. 

So it occurs to me that we're not treating this crisis as what it is. A death. A death of our way of life. It might only be temporary. But right now there's no end in sight. And no guarantee that the life we return to will be the same as the one that's just died. Suddenly. With no real time to prepare. The hardest kind of death to cope with. 

Less than a month ago I was about to spend the weekend at a festival, looking forward to a summer holiday in Florida, a couple of mini-breaks in between. It feels surreal to think how much things have changed in such a short space of time. Now I'm wondering if international travel will become something we used to do. If I'm doomed to spend all future summers at the whim of British weather. 

But in true British style we all feel like we're supposed to "keep calm and carry on". We have to "stay positive", be grateful we're not sick with the virus yet (thank god), but with the shadow of inevitably catching it sometime soon hanging over us. Maybe we should just give ourselves a break. Time to adjust. Time to not be ok. 

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It felt like the first couple of weeks were denial. There was a novelty factor to working in your PJs each day, making one food shop last all week, not having to commute or do the school run...

Right now I think I'm somewhere between anger (for the plans un-done) and bargaining (maybe it WILL all be over by June and we'll be able to travel this summer, if only those pesky teenagers and gallivanting pensioners would just socially distance themselves properly). Which means I've still got depression to work through before reaching acceptance and adjustment to the idea that my new, smaller, more local life is ok. 

I'm hoping that it won't take long for my mojo to return. Depression doesn't suit me, and I know deep down that there are opportunities and good times to be had in this new version of normal. But til then, bear with me. And if I'm a bit of a grumpy cow, please have patience and don't hold it against me long term!

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