(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Dealing with Loss During Quarantine
By Jehn Kubiak
After living what I felt like was an amazing six months of my life compared to the entire previous three years I’ve had, my world crumbled within the span of about three days. That might seem melodramatic––after all, I have a house, some food (albeit not the healthiest), a dog, and a family who loves me. But even with all these physical needs met, COVID-19 destroyed my emotional life because it took my passion away: aquatics.
From Pandemic to Pandemonium
Before this pandemic hit, I was working 40 hours a week between three aquatics jobs, plus another 10-20 as a teaching assistant. Grading papers just helps me pay the bills; the three aquatics jobs, on the other hand, are there more so for my enjoyment. Literally––I’d work all of them for free if paying rent, student loans, and other expenses wasn’t a thing. I’m even planning on teaching swim lessons or coaching once I’m retired…if that day even comes, since I’m such a workaholic.
While we’re on the subject of work, I know I should really take a break, and I really did actually enjoy my first week off work. However, come the second week, I was just sad. Not depressed per se, but a melancholic state completely took over my mind. Those who know me well know I’m a free-spirited, smiley person who can say some of the most random things if I feel comfortable or happy enough. But that person suddenly vanished. She came out sporadically, such as when she painted some artwork, but it was only for a moment.
Aquatics As A Passion
Maybe my mentors were right; work cannot completely fulfill you. And I’m not saying my relationship with God isn’t great right now, or that He’s not enough for me. However, I also know God created us to be passionate about certain things so we can accomplish His work. I believe He gave me a passion for aquatics because a lot of people treat it as a means-to-an end. Lifeguarding as just a summer job; swim lessons as just a way to drown-proof a child; swim team as just a way to earn a scholarship; water aerobics as just something the doctor recommended for fitness.
While aquatics is like that for some people, it’s completely different for me. Lifeguarding is a way to engage my mind, challenge myself, and stress-relieve as I watch people swim. Teaching lessons is a place for me to pass on my love for swimming to other kids. I never swam competitively, but I’ve always trained on my own because the feeling of slicing my arms through water brings an inexplicable joy. Swimming is not just a way to “get fit” for me, and my aquatics positions are not “just jobs.”
Of course, my identity is not in swimming, but aquatics is still a real part of who I am nonetheless. This is why the temporary loss of my aquatics jobs (due to pool closures from health restrictions) really shook my world; it meant that I lost a significant part of my life.
Journaling as a Way of Coping
Perhaps you lost something, too. Perhaps it was just as hard for you as it was for me, just in a different way. Maybe you’re a hiking enthusiast who lost their opportunity to explore some great national parks. A mother who used to have alone time and is now bombarded with constant chaos due to the kids being home all the time. A college student who missed out on commencement. An extravert who just wants to hug a friend “for reals.”
I can’t say that I know exactly what you’re going through, but I will say that I understand that feeling of loss. It’s heavy, and it can really get to you if it’s left uncontrolled. So, you’re probably wondering, what did you do to manage that feeling?
After dealing with PTSD from a workplace bullying incident, I started journaling as a way of getting the awful thoughts and flashbacks out of my mind. As a writer, using my hand to actually create words has always brought me solace. Typing is required for all my published works, but I still prefer writing by hand. My journal was a place where I could calm my mind by physically writing, and it was a place where my thoughts could go. I even made a habit of carrying my journal in my car so I could pull it out and write things down on my breaks at work if I have a tough day or a lot of my mind.
If writing isn’t your thing, perhaps making videos is. Much like a vlog, you can make a video journal and keep the videos in an album on your phone. There’s power in spoken words as well as written words. After writing or saying these things, find some time in the day to reflect on your thoughts and bring those before God in prayer. It doesn’t even have to be at the same time you journaled if you have a busy schedule like mine.
God as The Ultimate History Maker
I’m not saying God will magically “fix” everything, but like a best friend, He wants to know what’s on your heart and how He can help. Even more, He welcomes our honest expression of negative emotions: anger, disappointment, outrage, sadness, and the like. He can bring you peace during this time of loss and uncertainty.
Perhaps those losses won’t turn into gains any time soon, but God is also a “history maker.” He has redeemed past curses into blessings, such as how He redeemed Job’s circumstances. Although a lot of pastors love to preach on this topic, I enjoy reading and re-reading his story because it’s a great reminder that the Lord gives and takes away––but although He takes away, He often restores that loss with blessing.
I hope this truth comforts you during this unprecedented crisis the world is dealing with. Stay strong; good times will come again eventually, even if it seems like they’re an eternity away.
To find out more about Jehn and to pick up her newest book release visit the direct link here.