People often hold their emotions in for a variety of reasons. Sometimes if people are feeling too vulnerable, just one word of comfort and they’ll start crying. In order not to cry in public and risk public embarrassment, they’ll act as if they’re O.K. and never been better. But we know the truth — many people probably have emotions they’re not sharing with others. They might feel if they are outspoken about their feelings they will be stigmatized.
With the COVID-19 virus running rampant and infecting people all over the world, people are having mixed emotions. Some people are panicking about their older parents, or relatives with a weakened immune system. Others are having a very hard time staying indoors 24/7, perhaps indefinitely.
I’d like to address feelings people may have that they are embarrassed to share. People should speak up when they need help or have a problem. I hate stigmas and do as much as I can to eradicate them.
I was supposed to go to Morocco with my mother as a birthday gift this coming May. Of course it has been called off. I was also supposed to go to Florida for Pesach, and as a getaway. These two trips are cancelled as well. I think I’d be expected to not say one word of dismay at missing these trips. After all, people are dying; how dare I think of myself at a time like this.
However, human beings are people with feelings. We are allowed to feel our feelings and express and discuss them with others. We are allowed to feel disappointed. We are allowed to feel sad. We are allowed to feel angry. Whether it be weddings, bar and bat mitzvah parties, trips, etc., we can feel sad at missing the simcha inherent in each activity. After feeling sad, we must do our best to move on.
It should not be stigmatized to express your frustration, anger, or sadness upon missing some important event that was to take place in your life.
I don’t think I’m a bad person for being sad that I’m missing my trips; at the same time I’m seriously concerned with my parents’ welfare. There is nothing more important to me than my family and friends staying healthy and following the rules.
Everyone decides how strict they will be. Watching Floridians lounge on the beach with 1 foot of space between them makes me feel angry. I can’t go on my trips, but they’re most likely spreading the coronavirus? So I’ll feel my anger and frustration and move on.
Because that is what we do in this world. Feel the feelings, discuss and share them, and move on. No sense in hanging on to negative emotions. But there should definitely be no stigma to really feeling these emotions and showing your pain to others.
Some people might need therapy after undergoing a pandemic such as this, while others might just need their friends and family to listen to them vent and get rid of those negative feelings. To each his own. But whatever someone decides they need, there should be no shame attached.
On the contrary, opening up to others will do you good, letting you get your negative emotions off your chest.
I hope the coronavirus sickens as few people as possible, and I hope recovery is something that most people will achieve.
In the meanwhile, share your thoughts and feelings, and never feel ashamed to feel scared, angry, hopeless, and or any other emotions. Talk it out. And then move on. We have no time to waste in getting our great country back to where it should be — virus free.
Michele Herenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.