During these times of uncertainty, fear and anxiety over a virus that has affected over a million people around the world, many feel we are at war with an invisible enemy. It reminds me of a different war, however.
When I was a little girl, I remember having to line up with my mom to get groceries as a result of the food rationing in place during the Iran/Iraq war. I remember my school closing down and not being able to see my friends for an extended period of time. I remember our windows shattering due to the loud noise of the bombs in Tehran.
A few weeks ago, I watched my own daughter cry, at a similar age, when we drove to her empty school to pick up her school items. She stared at the playground that she so adored, closed with the yellow tape that surrounded the school. She saw her principal and vice-principal directing families one by one into the school, some wearing N95 masks and gloves. We later went to our local grocery store and we could feel the tension with everyone trying to keep their distance, not showing a smile or any expression on the visible part of their faces. . It was a sad morning.
I felt a rush of sadness and grief. I also felt anger, mixed with fear. Sadness was deep in my heart. I sat with the pain, took a breath and let my tears stream down my face. I knew this was pure grief at the loss of what I used to take for granted: the safety and comfort of my child going to school, the ease of grocery shopping, the simple pleasure of saying hello to my neighbours without worrying about getting sick or passing on a deadly virus. It seems I took a lot of things for granted. I would have never thought life would be this different in such a short period of time.
Everyone deals with these times differently, and we need to have compassion for our different ways of dealing with the many feelings and stages of grief. Our emotions come with a set of memories attached, different for us all. When I felt sadness, fear and anger all at the same time, it brought me back to my childhood and war time. For others, it brings back other difficult memories.
These are difficult times, but one day, I know, these times will pass. I hope these new experiences will teach us self-awareness, self- compassion and the ability to feel our emotions without judgment. Over the last few weeks, I have seen how we can be there for our friends, family, colleagues and patients. In the coming weeks, I know we will try to be the best versions of ourselves for our loved ones and our community. My profession, my colleagues, and my country give me hope.