Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Quarantine and the Stages of Grief

After two months in quarantine, which I’ve experienced by going through pretty much all the stages of grief, you could say I’ve finally arrived at acceptance.

Trying to make good use of the time: My daughter sat for me a couple of times, although I did end up having to finish this from a photo. I filmed my process and will be making a new instructional video on painting children!

Let's face it--the world is a very different place than it was just a couple months ago. We all experienced the initial shock: over the daily and nearly instantaneous shutdown of businesses, schools, and life as we know it. We went through denial: over the seriousness of the virus or its affect on the healthcare system and the economy. Most of us felt some anger: over the loss of our usual routine, hangout spots, conveniences, etc. - and for many of us, especially small business owners, the loss of income or our jobs. I was frustrated to suddenly become a "homeschool mom," a role I never wanted. I also felt so much anger over the constant political rants and arguments on social media that I started limiting my screen time on Facebook to five minutes per day (so far I’m not regretting that decision).

Then there's depression: anyone else experience this? I'm definitely an introvert, but didn't realize how much I depended on being around other people to help me stay sane! Now I spend all day every day with two children under the age of six. I see other artists kicking butt and keeping their momentum going by teaching online classes and continuing to make sales, but my life as an artist feels like it's come to a screeching halt. I've had no motivation, no desire to smile or laugh. For weeks, Zoom meetings just made me sadder. All of my spring art events were cancelled, and with no outlets to display or promote my work besides the already over-saturated internet, my income has fallen flat.  The Portrait Society of America conference would have been earlier this month, and I was really looking forward to it! It would have been my break from home life, and my chance to shine in an area of life I’m passionate about. 

I might also add “guilt” to this list (as opposed to bargaining, though there’s probably been some of that too), since in my head I know that I’m still living an incredibly comfortable and blessed life. I still have food in my fridge, toilet paper in the bathroom, a roof over my head, a big back yard for the kids, a comfortable bed, running water, electricity, and internet. My family and I are healthy. My struggles pale in comparison to those of many others, nonetheless, my struggles are real. I’ve seen an internet post going around stating that we are all struggling, but we are NOT all in the same boat. That is true.

It is possible to have a myriad of strange emotions and reactions over this. After all, it’s history in the making, and it’s hard to say whether or not life will ever be the same. And I, like everyone else, am concerned about a lot of things, like the loss of my rights and the widening political divide in our country - while still being concerned about the spread of the virus. Believe me, my family and I have taken it seriously, to the point where we haven’t even seen my twin sister or her kids. I begrudgingly wear my mask to the grocery store, and sanitize everything that comes into our home.

So... what does acceptance look like? Even though quarantine life with little children is HARD, there are still many sweet moments in my day that perhaps I would have overlooked or missed in my busy life before quarantine. My daughter's literacy has really taken off and it is absolutely magical watching a child learn how to read! My busy 20-month-old too--though still not talking (I must confess, I really enjoy his incoherent jibber jabber), is a "book-pusher" and relaxes his whole body onto mine when I read him a book on my lap. My daughter loves to paint and "write" stories. I'm amazed at her ability to get lost in her imagination as she figures out her own ways to cope with being separated from society. We are all spending a lot more time outside. Cece and I started planting our vegetable garden and she has spent hours "rescuing" and relocating earth worms, which she considers to be very "cute."  I've had many sweet conversations with family and friends over the phone or computer that may not have happened otherwise. Perhaps the biggest lesson from all of this is that I'm learning that I was starting to depend on the wrong things to bring me happiness or satisfaction, and quarantine has forced me to hit the reset button so that I can continue working on my heart and character.

I am still painting whenever I can and finishing up commissions and other projects that have sat in my studio for over a year and a half. If now is not the time to do this, then when?? I've started some paintings just for me and my soul. Instead of focusing on what would have been, I’m going to try and see how I can serve, live, and love fully, now. I know, I know—I’m sort of late to the game. I had to overcome all the hurdles in my head and heart before I could get to this point. My place, is right here. In the present moment, in my home, with my two little children who are becoming less little before my very eyes. I’m writing this post to remind myself to stop always striving. To lay it on the altar and let it be. Daily I have to relinquish control and allow myself to be FREE – not free in the sense that I can go anywhere I want without a mask, or be closer than six feet to someone else, or work out at a physical gym, etc. But free from anger, anxiety, the bondage of depression, or scarcity.  Once those things no longer have control over me, then I’ll be able to handle quarantine for many more weeks, months, years even if need be, because I'll be focusing on what actually matters, and that is today.

More art to follow, but in the mean time, if you can relate to this post, leave a comment! I'd love to encourage you that everything you're going through and feeling is valid, and that we will get through this together.



  1. Dear Anna Rose, You ask if we can relate to your post. Of course we can ~~ in every way. You write and express yourself so beautifully, for one so young. I am certain that all of us can identify with EVERY word and feeling. Take care. Stay well.

  2. Dear Anna Rose, Beautifully stated! I, too, realized during the early weeks that I was having all of those emotions as well. I awoke a couple of mornings in complete denial (Can something like this really be happening? I can't see it or even sense the magnitude of something like it so it can't be!) Then the daily TV media coverage was horrific and brought a new sense of awe and fear and grief!

    Now it seems that we have all settled in and there is some tiny bit of acceptance of our new lifestyle. Also, a recognition that somehow we will not return to normal life (whatever that is) for a long time but we will have a new normal probably changing daily.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and honest insights.

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