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Feelings about a Post-Pandemic World

Eva Amurri shares her feelings about a post-pandemic world

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in my Newsletter that the vaccine rollout (and subsequent alleviation of strident “pandemic rules and regulations”) had been triggering some feelings for me. I realized that so much of my mourning and loss I have felt as a result of the events of the past year have been dormant as I was purely in survival mode. I think we’ve all been holding so much beneath the surface, and just trying to get on with life to the best of our abilities. Now, with the promise of a “post-pandemic world” on the horizon, and a vaccine available to me (Yay!), so many of these feelings have been flooding back and consuming my thoughts. Old pain, new worries, and just an overarching feeling of unease. So many of you contacted me, sharing that you could relate…for reasons similar to mine and also very different. It was fascinating to realize that I wasn’t alone in feeling so many. conflicting feelings: Joy and Hope, but also Loss and Sadness. Relief AND anxiety. 

I then talked about the subject a bit on Instagram Stories, and shared a comment box where people could share a little bit about their feelings about a post-pandemic world. I was truly SHOCKED by how many of you are really going through so many challenging emotions. There are equal parts people who are ecstatic and relieved…and people who are so anxious and overwhelmed by restarting life as we knew it. I would say the vast majority shared that they were mostly feeling conflicted in one way or another. 

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I realized it would be worth it to really unpack my own feelings here with all of you in a real blog post…in the hopes that you will share your own feelings with the community in the comments. I wanted to remind you that you can always put “anonymous” in the name box if you don’t want to share your identity with your comment, Or just use a first name! I do think it’s helpful, though, to share how we’re doing right now during this pretty confusing moment in history. It helps people feel less alone and makes us all remember we are on this journey together– even amidst the most isolating year of all of our lives. 

I’ll start off by saying that it’s obvious we are not yet living in a Post Pandemic World. As encouraging as it is to know we have a vaccine available to us here in the states, and that many people are taking advantage of that, the truth of the matter is that so many countries across the globe are still really suffering from the effects of COVID. As I type this, it is so heartbreaking to read about the Corona Virus “Tsunami” going on in India at the moment. Areas of Europe are being hit really hard again as well. It remains obvious that it’s so important to stay vigil as we move into a more open season here in the United States, and to make sure we are all taking care of our health as well as monitoring for symptoms and being responsible. 

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Life is going back to somewhat more normalcy here in the states, however, and vaccination numbers are climbing. In my home state of Connecticut, over 60 percent of people 16 to 44 are vaccinated, and over 80 percent of people in the 65+ range are vaccinated. My state is starting to lift restrictions and open up, and with the onset of less restrictions comes a wave of emotion for me. Mateo was born on the first official day of lockdown: March 13th, 2020. I had just given birth, and was so overwhelmed navigating a divorce, new motherhood, co-parenting, and adjusting to three children…all while being concerned for the safety of myself and my family and being cut off from my support system. I realize now in retrospect what a traumatizing experience it all was, and I definitely bottled up a lot of those emotions. I have some friends having babies now, or about to give birth, and mixed up in all the joy I feel to meet their babies and drop off meals for them is the sadness that is finally bubbling to the surface about my own postpartum period. None of my friends got to hold my newborn, or come over and offer advice face to face. I had to let go of any expectation or plan I had for my third baby. My kids were anxious and overwhelmed, and my Mom didn’t even meet my baby until he was over four months old. That’s time we can’t get back. At the time, I just kept the momentum moving forward, holding life together in my little bubble for myself and my family. But I have a lot of feelings of loss and anger about that time. I had been excited to have a third baby to really enjoy it this time around…and it ended up happening during a global pandemic. Of course, I always try and put these feelings in perspective and think about how lucky I’ve been to be safe and healthy during this time, and how the things I’m mourning are a small price to pay for that. But I do think it’s so important to acknowledge feelings of loss and frustration as they come up. Taking a breather, now, it’s clear that there is still so much for me to process emotionally. 

I also have begun to recognize what a toll all of this has taken on my kids…and that’s really hard for me to see. Watching them adjust to new ways of Pandemic Life (mask-wearing, nonstop hand sanitizing, social distancing, lack of interactions in school, no new friends, etc) has made me so proud of them on one hand. They’ve taken it in stride. On the other hand, it’s broken my heart. It kills me that so much of my kids’ lives this year have been spent in worry and in isolation. When I see them run into kids in a public space, and hesitate to go near them or talk to them, I flinch. It makes me so uncomfortable to watch them suppressing their natural, beautiful, innocent instincts to reach out and connect person to person. I worry a lot about what this year has done long-term for little kids around the world. Easing out of this pandemic safely where kids are concerned has almost felt more confusing than easing in. How do we nurture them back to a place where they feel safe? Where they trust again? Where they ARE safe again? 

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Another big feelings web for me is re-examining a post-pandemic work/life balance and socialization expectation. I think back to life pre-COVID and it was super hectic in my world. I didn’t say No a lot, or turn down opportunities, and my schedule was pretty packed. As an extrovert, I’m ecstatic that we will be able to ease into being more social in the nearer future. And as somebody who is by nature very curious, I’m even more excited that venues and businesses will be opening more. I can’t wait to explore! I do feel myself slipping back onto the hamster wheel in some ways, though. And that scares me a little. As challenging as the past year has been, I’ve gotten used to more time with my kids and shortening the tether a bit when it comes to plans and socialization. It’s going to be challenging to even think how I did before about casting a wide net. Maybe I never will. My social circle has definitely gotten smaller, and there’s something beautiful about that. I think I learned some valuable lessons about what I want and need to spend my energy on when it comes to filling my own cup and keeping it full. 

All in all, I’ve been trying to remind myself that this year has been so overwhelming in so many different ways for EVERYBODY. We have all experienced fear, loss, grief, anguish, trauma, and anger. We are all healing. I’ve been telling myself to really allow myself to feel whatever feelings come up for me, and not to judge them. To shake hands with them, study them, and learn from them. I’ve also been trying to be patient with other people as they do the same. It’s important to remember that every person you come across has been affected by this pandemic and has their own worries and conflicts. It’s important to be gentle with each other, too. 

I would love if you would share how you’re feeling right now about the prospect of a post-pandemic world…and if you have been finding anything productive that has helped you cope! Thank you!

Photographs by Julia Dags | Happily Eva After, Inc. © 2021 All Rights Reserved

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20 Comments

  1. Caroline says:

    Thank you for opening up this discussion. You’re right that this definitely isn’t over.

    I have some of the same feelings you do. My world has gotten smaller, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I would drive 30 minutes to eat at a new restaurant or shop, and I haven’t done that since last March. I’ve really tried to support the places I love that are close by right in my town. That will probably continue.

    I’m a teacher, and so the emotions about work and school reopening have been roller coaster. I think I was suppressing my anger about people being irresponsible and it has finally surfaced this spring when I see school systems having proms and graduations that are not safe, and people inviting vulnerable guests to those events.

    I do miss traveling so much! I’m vaccinated so trying to plan a safe trip this summer.

    04.27.21 Reply
  2. Elisabeth says:

    First I would like to say thank you for opening up such an important topic. I never imagined when I went on maternity leave that I would home with a new baby, a toddler and a husband working from home. Nor did I ever imagine going back to work from the comfort of my own dining room. I will be honest, this year has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has forced me to figure out what worked for me. Our trip back to Paris last March to see my family was cancelled and to this day my father has yet to meet his granddaughter. I long for the day where we will be able to travel back safely and spend quality time together.

    The thing that I am struggling the most with as I prepare myself to go back into the office and into the city is how do I still get to enjoy time with my children. For the first time in my life I got to see them in the morning enjoying the snuggles, be there for dinner, bath and bedtime. The lack of commute aloud me more time with my husband and doing things for myself. I am anxious to establish a new routine that will still allow me to be with my little family. After 17months of being home.. going back to my old normal seems like the wrong thing.

    04.27.21 Reply
  3. Jen says:

    Thank you Eva for speaking to all of this. I particularly love what you said about being in survival mode. As a psychotherapist I tell clients that when we have any kind of a trauma or any largely distressing event that blindsides us that is our instinct is to survive and just cope and move through it and while that’s happening our feelings are definitely shelved. I prescribed an “anniversary reaction” At the one-year mark of the world closing so they wouldn’t be surprised if their feelings started to flood in and catch up with them. Very normal and understandable. I also think a lot of people have been able to give themselves permission to “do less” and “Be less” And as the world is opening up there’s anxiety about more being expected of them. Also understandable! I hope everyone reads this and takes the cue to go slow, be kind to yourself and whisper to yourself “ you survived a pandemic!”

    04.27.21 Reply
  4. Katherine says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to be fully vaccinated and my husband is getting his second this week which makes me excited to do some activities. However I then get into a panic as my 17 month old is still vulnerable. I am also 36 weeks pregnant and know once I deliver I will be very cautious about who is around the baby. I hate to ask friends and family their “vax” status but feel like I need to know in order to protect my family.

    04.27.21 Reply
  5. RM says:

    Thank you for acknowledging that the global COVID fight is far from over especially in countries that were not able to get safe and timely vaccine options like us in America. This includes countries like France, Germany, Italy, India and the Philippines. If we learned anything from this pandemic it is that we are all connected and what happens to our fellow humans anywhere affects all of us 🙏🏽

    04.27.21 Reply
  6. Laura Perez says:

    Hi! So nice to have this space. It really makes me happy to see some parts of the world going back to normal. As you mentioned others are not so lucky, here in Latin America things are far from getting better. My turn for getting vaccinated in my country is really next year. I had my first baby just a month before Mateo was born so I must say I share many of the feelings of mourning and lowering expectation you described. Now I must add to that pile of emotions so much lack of hope for the near future and utter distrust in the institutions responsible for the vaccination process and control of the virus. It feels like this has no end here, so being able to see some normalcy around you makes everything feel less discouraging. Thank you!

    04.27.21 Reply
  7. K. Martin says:

    Thank you for putting into words what most of us are feeling. I am an introvert and to be honest I have enjoyed not having to be around people for the most part, but after not seeing my sisters for over 18 months now, it is starting to tell on me. All four of us are in the 70 – 55 year old range and I feel like we are missing such a big part of each other’s lives! On top of that the world itself beyond COVID has changed so much. As the Mom of a Law Enforcement Officer it has been extremely difficult. You are so right in stressing the importance of being kind to each other since everyone has been dealing with all of it in their own way and in their own time. Compassion, empathy, kindness and listening to each other has never been more important. Keeping all in my prayers each day. Feeling all the feels over here too!!

    04.27.21 Reply
  8. Jennifer Taylor says:

    My mom and I last Saturday got our first COVID shot and I was nervous mixed with excitement because I knew we were doing the right thing for ourselves our family Ava friends and people we come in contact with at work or school. What scares me is seeing so many people being adamantly and angrily opposed to the vaccine or even wearing masks yesterday I saw two adults a man and woman outside a grade actually harassing the kids telling them they were sheep for wearing masks it’s things like this that scare me because in the unfortunate four years we had Trump as president he has indoctrinated to his thinking and they have no problem sharing those views. I even saw on Fox News Tucker Carlson was encouraging people to confront someone if they have a mask on and to tell them to say the mask makes them uncomfortable. It’s people like this that scare me more than COVID or the new normal it has created.

    04.27.21 Reply
  9. Meaghan says:

    It’s very tough. I’m an introvert and was already germophobic. I joked prior to lockdown that I might become agoraphobic if this happens (when we watched China and thought oh that won’t happen here).

    I worked full-time outside of the home so this pandemic gave me so much extra time with my children. In January, I nervously sent them back to school/daycare and had so much anxiety about them being away from me. However, all of our moods improved so that was a relief.

    Now I’m dreading the return to the office. Limited time once again to balance household chores, parenting and some time to myself. The office won’t be the same so the return seems pointless, but I also would like to move around in my career and it feels odd to do so virtually.

    I can’t relate to feeling I missed out in the past year. I actually loved having a reason to avoid family gatherings. (Did I mention I’m an introvert? Haha) However, I did use to venture out a lot on the weekends with my children and we all miss that. Everything about this has been so hard. All of our existing problems didn’t go away, but instead just compounded on top of the pandemic problems. We all need to show grace, patience and kindness to one another…

    04.27.21 Reply
  10. Glenda says:

    I miss traveling! We’ve done little road trips.
    This exactly is what I tell myself everyday:
    “It’s important to remember that every person you come across has been affected by this pandemic and has their own worries and conflicts. It’s important to be gentle with each other, too”.
    And I tell myself always “be kind”… we just don’t know what someone else is going through, because we are all going through our own storms.

    04.27.21 Reply
  11. Dani says:

    As a Frontline Nurse the COVID has been full of the most physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausting experiences in my 20 year career! I am one of the people offered the vaccine, but due to health concerns and potential side effects I am unable to get it. I overcame my feelings of inadequacy when it came time to become a teacher that my children needed. I, like all Parents put all my wants and needs on the back burner to give all of myself to my Family, Friends and Patients. I found Joy in the ability to just stay Home with my Family 💖. I no longer feel guilty about saying ” No!”, and putting my Happiness and Desires above others expectations of myself and Family! I enjoyed the Drama free Holidays with just the four of us and have no intentions of resorting back to the way things were done before!
    The Pandemic had been full of Sadness, Loss, Anxiety, and Fear, but it has given us all and opportunity to Slow Down, Reconnect, and find the Joy in the smallest things!

    04.27.21 Reply
  12. AB says:

    Thank you for starting this discussion, it has been so helpful to me to see I am not alone. Initially I was feeling relief at being able to spend time in person with family and friends. But as I’ve started to think about the reality more I’m realising how conflicted I really am. On the one hand I have missed my family and friends so much and desperately want to spend more quality time enjoying their company. But I have freaky settled into working from home and I am scared to go back to travelling constantly and working in a large open plan office.

    I’ve been able to spend time realising what is important to me and really enjoying slowing down. I don’t want to give that up but something has to give. I can’t run at the pace I was before and have time to stop and reflect.

    I am so grateful for everything I have learned about myself over the last year. One of my biggest lessons has been to stay present in the moment and not future project all the time. From that I have been able to take so much joy from lots of tiny moments even when going through a lot of grief. But the planner in me is stressing that I don’t have the new future all figured out. It feels like a constant battle reminding myself to slow down and breathe. Reading these posts it is so good to know I’m not alone and so n my sun of us are struggling to adapt once again to a different future. Thank you for allowing me to connect with others.

    04.27.21 Reply
  13. Erin says:

    I have been feeling all of the things! I live in Northern NJ, so just like you, we were right in the middle of it all last spring and I really think we were much more emotionally affected by the reality than people living in other states. I also have two kids, 6 and almost 3 and to think they were so little when this all started is hard to wrap my arms around. We also have had major challenges with return to school here and my kindergartener just went back for hybrid a few weeks ago. She missed out on so much! And like you said they absorbed things you can never take back. We decided to fly to visit her grandmother in NC for memorial day weekend, rather than drive again. When we told her about it, she started crying, said she did not want to go because she would get COVID and die from the air plane. This absolutely broke my heart. While not the same, I was a about 1 week into freshman year of college on 9-11, and from that moment on, I felt like I lost a little bit of innocents and life as we knew it changed… I feel like this generation of kids will have the same experience. It won’t hurt them forever, but it will define their childhood. I could go on and on… but thank you for sharing so much of yourself!

    04.27.21 Reply
  14. Victoria says:

    I’ve always had healthy anxiety and the pandemic made it so much worse, and it was awful to begin with. I’m always worried about getting severely ill. However, I noticed so much of my own anxiety went down once my parents were fully vaccinated. Almost as if I worried a whole lot less about myself getting sick. Now that I’ve been fully vaccinated, I can breathe a big comfortable sigh of relief.

    I’m visiting my parents next month for the first time in 15 months and even though we are all vaccinated, I’m still hesitant to get close to them and hug them, although I want to. Reading about breakthrough cases worries me, and I want to avoid getting anyone, including myself, sick at all costs. So although I’m happy to be out and about again and seeing people, physical connection is still a hard concept for me to be comfortable with right now. I will say for me, handshakes and sharing drinks are a thing I’ve packed away and won’t probably revisit again. Or at least anytime soon.

    I really hope more people who don’t believe in vaccines, can have a change in mind and get on board with something that can protect them and others.

    Aside from seeing family, I’m finally excited to have a cocktail that’s not made by me but made by a bartender instead. A girl could use a drink.

    What’s been helpful for me is slowly easing back in to things I used to do pre-pandemic. I’ve always loved outdoors and have spent the majority of my free-time outdoors the past year, I’m finally inviting friends a long with me.

    My therapist often asks me “What’s something you can challenge yourself with that will in turn, open up your comfortability around others?” I did therapy virtually for a year and my saint of a therapist recently started offering neighborhood walking sessions and to just talk to someone in person has made such a huge difference. I really miss people, and I can’t wait to see friends in person, again.

    04.27.21 Reply
  15. Delilah says:

    As someone who is from one of the hardest states hit…and one of the states locked down the longest (CA), my circle has definitely shrunk but I don’t look at that as a negative because, being locked in at home for a year, I learned how valuable my time was and how it is not something to waste….ever. What actually scares me about the post pandemic world is how everyone treats each other. If you choose to not wear a mask and choose not to vaccinate, that’s OK…it is a personal choice and no one knows the reasons behind that personal decision. On the other side…if you want to double mask, get fully vaccinated, that’s OK and is your personal choice. What I don’t get is…regardless of what side you’re on…why do people have to be so ugly to each other. It literally TERRIFIES me…no one should mask shame or vaccine shame PERIOD.

    04.27.21 Reply
  16. Michelle says:

    I have literally become very quiet yet anxious during the pandemic. I am a staff member in a tiny ‘little red schoolhouse’ on the east end of Long Island and I am constantly worried about our kids getting ill and passing it on.
    I have tested 9x’s, always negative. My hubby got it March 13th 2020. But could not get him tested until 4/2/20! We Q from each other in same home. The 13th of March was when we closed our school and did not open again until this past September!
    We have been so vigilant at home and at my little K-6 th grade school. Luckily our school children have all been well.
    I’m not happy our kids can now be within 3 feet of each other…some teachers pushed for the change to be made at school and we did it but I did not want to do it.
    Some of our parents don’t believe in the virus so at home, outside of school, they don’t follow the rules. Lord knows who the kids are being exposed to then bringing any germs into our 3 room schoolhouse.
    Can you tell how anxious I am?!
    Our private bubble has shrunk considerably. My hubby and I have been ok with that though…we still like and love each other thru it all! And we watch a sunset from the Long Island Sound just about every night!
    He survived Covid & the illness was not severe for him. One of his closet friends survived as well. But sadly he was in ICU on a vent for 9 weeks. So scary.
    Mother’s Day is soon. My mom and all 3 sisters and their families (we are all vaccinated) are coming out East to celebrate. We will be outdoors at a North Fork Vineyard, so I am excited for that first family get together in 14 months!
    Happy MD to you. Love your blog & Insta. Be well & stay safe! My Best, Michelle

    04.27.21 Reply
  17. Anonymous says:

    This pandemic has shown me people’s true colors. My circle got smaller but I can truly say those friends are the ones every one wants in their life. I learned to leave a toxic work environment and have found such fulfillment in a new environment. I have witnessed my children deal with adults in a less than ideal manner in the retail world. Children should never be victims of adult customer’s frustration. It has made me be super friendly with everyone I encounter as I know they are being bullied daily by these assholes. Yes I said it! I also limited my extended family interaction and fear having no good excuse to not get together.

    04.27.21 Reply
  18. MARIA GATSOU says:

    I heard a good one lately and it goes like…what you focus on becomes bigger, so I decided not to overanalyse negative feelings either they stem from the pandemic restrictions or not.I dont bury my anxieties and insecurities but I try to be skeptical.I always keep in mind that tragedy (real tragedy) could be just around the corner and we really never know what worst will happen next in our lives.So dont waste time with nonsense worrying (i repeat to myself).We have actually lived like prisoners during the last year (although with a few leaves 😸)and to me this has caltivated mostly feelings of anger and resentment towards other people who did not respect the measures and were unwilling to sacrifice a part of their freedom.I mean I was becoming furious watching people secretly partying or drinking coffee at the parks for hours with their masks at their chin, even during the worst period of the lockdown, same people again and again.One thing that is positive from the whole situation is that, with the stores mostly closed, I saved hundreds of euros that I would have spent in meaningless shopping.I dont enjoy e-shopping much and I now find those old days of constant shoping for fun@(even if itdid not beeak the bank), stupid.

    04.27.21 Reply
  19. Anonymous says:

    I had been working as a fit model for one of the largest clothing companies in the world in 2019, moving into 2020. I watched closely as the factories in China shut down, and we stopped receiving samples. Many of my coworkers had family overseas and would come in reporting how bad things were getting. I didn’t know the full extent of the situation at the time, but it’s almost like I could feel a tsunami coming. Our family’s quarantine began on March 17, 2020 (my husband was literally sent home-to work remotely-indefinitely). My children have not been back to in person school since then. I have 100% been living in a survival mode…and am just now beginning to acknowledge that we might be seeing the first signs of a post-pandemic world.

    04.28.21 Reply
  20. Sally says:

    Thank you for this post. I dont think I have given myself any proper time to evaluate the past year..

    When we were 1st locked down in the UK, I was resentful – we had so many plans, trips away just me and my husband, family trips, sleepovers with friends…

    The 2nd lockdown I was grateful, the realisation that COVID wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon and I was so fearful for my children and family that it gave me the excuse to shut our doors, block out the world and stay safe…

    The 3rd lockdown was the hardest – I was so desperate to give my kids the best Christmas after such a crappy year but it just wasn’t to be.

    And now? Well now I have no trust, I don’t trust my community to be sensible and help keep infection rates low, I actually don’t have a lot of trust left in humanity!
    We are on a roadmap to opening up our country yet I see such complacency that it makes me nervous, how can I keep my children and family safe?! Truth is, I’m just not ready to re-enter the world – and actually as I type this, I realise that that’s ok! X

    04.30.21 Reply