I want to start by acknowledging some things. This pandemic is huge and is directly touching millions of people. When I say directly touching – I mean lives and livelihoods at stake or lost. I am grateful to and in awe of the healthcare and other essential workers who continue to interface with the public at risk to themselves and their families. I am anxious for those who have lost some or all of their income and I hope our government can make good choices for us all as we navigate life after.

Sidwalk chalk art - Quarantine: the hardest part

And for those who have been or seen loved ones in hospital beds or dying… that is the biggest loss. The most devastating and life-changing type of impact.

Now to shift to this piece: it’s about the quarantined.

That’s what I’m most qualified to write about as that is my lived experience. My household – myself, my husband, our two living children, our two cats – has been “shelter-in-place” for more than four weeks now.

It’s been interesting (and frankly, amusing) to see how some of my neighbors, friends, and colleagues are dealing with this. A huge and immediate shift has happened and we’re all scrambling a bit.

My work had a “virtual happy hour” this week. I didn’t attend, because that is the last thing I can focus on when juggling work obligations, two screaming kids, and general house stuff. One thing that caught my eye though, was the ice-breaker questions.

  1. What have you learned about yourself as a result of the pandemic?
  2. What is one thing that you’ve learned about your spouse (or anyone in your household)?

I was in my own home, so luckily no one could see my eye roll and snicker. Look, this whole quarantining thing (and all it’s frantic energy) doesn’t rank in the top 10 life-altering events for me. It doesn’t rank in the top 10 major things my husband and I have had to navigate together. I’ve learned things about friends and acquaintances, I’ve learned things about celebrities, but I have learned nothing about my inner circle that I didn’t already know.

This is temporary.

I get that the uncertainty is unsettling. I get that this isn’t what any of us planned for April 2020. But it is temporary. Will it last a few more weeks? A few months? A year? Until a vaccine is developed? I don’t know. But I know it isn’t forever. Grappling with temporary is but a drop compared to the ocean of grappling with forever. The permanence of my son’s death is the most tragic thing about it.

This is an arm’s length away.

This isn’t true for everyone, but it is for many of us. No one in our immediate family is in the hospital or has died of this virus. Is it scary? Yes. Is it anywhere near the all-consuming agony of finding out my child would die and then having to live through that part too? No. Stir-crazy, frustration, exhaustion, irritation, these are NOTHING next to grief. Anticipatory grief is real and valid, but the possibility of grief is not the same as actual grief. We can manage this.

Family playing outside - Quarantine: the hardest part

Isolation together.

Loneliness hurts, and I feel for those who live alone and for single parents. Even so, whatever the family dynamic, there are millions – literally millions – of people going through the same thing. If you are eager for connection – so are millions of other people. Want content to consume? There are millions of new creations being pushed out every day. Make a joke about quarantine life? Everybody gets it. This doesn’t begin to mimic the isolation when your baby dies. The isolation when the world goes on as if nothing happened. When no one knows you suffered a miscarriage. When no one knows you’re doing fertility treatments. When you TFMR. When you sit at a baby shower biting back tears. When you meet other families and have to navigate if/when to tell them about your baby who died.

I’m not saying quarantining is easy or quarantining after loss is easy. The quarantine isn’t the hardest part, the loss is.

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Are you pregnant after loss during the pandemic? Get tips for coping while quarantined and coping strategies for pregnancy after loss during a pandemic.

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