Ausgabe Mai/Juni 2020

A Collective Mourning Process

INTERVIEW | Barbara Raes on loss in times of the Coronavirus.

Exhaustion, caused by isolation? A picture taken for „OILinity“ by Kat Válastur © Dorothea Tuch

Barbara Raes’ essay was written in early March, two weeks before public life all over Europe came to a halt. A lot has changed since then. Probably most of us experience losses: some are bereaved of a family member or a friend; others have lost their income; many have forfeited their sense of orientation since daily practices have been shattered. In Mid-April, tanzraumberlin talked to Barbara Raes via e-mail about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Interview: Elena Philipp

Barbara Raes, what kind of losses do we, does the world experience at the moment? And what further losses lie ahead of us?

I think the world is going through a collective mourning process, knowing that the world is changing but not knowing how and when that change will be. The different emotions that people go through (even when they are not confronted with health problems or death) are parallel to the emotions that appear in a chaotic way during mourning: denial, sadness, anger, bargaining, depression, anxiousness, etc. But also acceptance and giving meaning are part of a mourning process. And that is what lies ahead of us: to give meaning to what is happening today and create a resilient society that can deal with this trauma in the (near) future.

What could be adequate coping strategies?

After your individual process of creating a safe space for yourself and your family; finding mental space to change the situation for the best and then embracing the new normal for this moment; your coping strategies can reach out to the world with two major priorities. One: Reconnecting with nature. Mankind has always been entwined with nature and it has been a huge error to think that we can disconnect from it. The challenge is to create (or rediscover) positive connections between humankind and nature. This is a great opportunity! For many, everything will be different now and will remain different in the future! Two: Reconnecting with the vulnerable people around you. This crisis shows that solidarity did not disappear from our society and that only with love and engagement we will weave a resilient carpet to walk on in the future!
PS: Don’t forget to put a spoon full of mildness in your coffee every morning ;-)!

Is it the time for rituals? Or aren’t maybe too many things ritualized already – like applauding the „heroes“ on medical duty; or checking ones privileges like having the possibility to work from home to avoid public transportation; claiming the weaker are hardest hit by the crisis – without really changing anything?

Even if one can be sceptical about the daily applauding for our care workers without believing that this will change anything in the health care system once the crisis is over, the therapeutic effect of that ritual is very important: it gives hope and structure to the day. Apart from collective rituals this time is also an opportunity to rethink your personal rituals that give you strength and make you more resilient. The crisis is an opportunity to take time for rituals that you would otherwise never take time for. Time to embrace your imagination and use it for processes of inner transformation in deep connection with the transformation of the trees and plants outside.     ◂

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