Pandemic Grief

This pandemic has impacted everyone. Maybe you can’t pay your rent, your business has closed or you have lost a loved one.

We are all experiencing many kinds of losses – and many kinds of grief.

Last September, I was on track to nearly double my previous years’ income. I felt like I was “making it”. I no longer needed additional income: every day I got to teach Pilates.

In February, after five years of hard work, I was promoted to senior instructor at Retrofit Pilates. In my industry, you earn your clients and classes — you grow and nurture them, with additional training, workshops, and advice from mentors. You often juggle schedules at multiple studios.

I felt I had found my style. Moreover, my clients were happy.

So, March 1, my promotion was announced. I was so proud.

The next week I went to the Bahamas with my partner. I admit I was naïve; I thought Covid-19 was far away in China. But Italy went into lockdown. I thought, “wow, so this is serious.”

On March 14, awaiting my flight home, I got the email advising that upon my return, I had to stay in for two weeks of mandatory self-isolation.

I cried. It felt surreal and scary. My mother couldn’t pick us up from the airport in Toronto, because doing so would impact her job.

I understood but was even more scared. I cried some more.

Next came the news that Retrofit and other studios where I teach and all non-essential business were closing to help flatten the curve.

During self-isolation, I was in a little bubble. I was fearful of what was happening, but also at peace because it was out of my hands. I qualified for CERB; that helped with financial concerns.

Then isolation ended. Life became real again. It’s now a very strange world

When one of the studios I worked at permanently shut down, so did my hope that life will return to “normal”. My favourite bar, owned by friends and where I worked for three years, has permanently shut down.

Many businesses will never open again. And I am skeptical that “normal” will ever exist again.

I personally struggle. I have had panic attacks outside my home. Some days are okay, but others I am sweaty and anxious just stepping outside. On those days, I don’t go out.

I have cried prior to teaching at the studio. Then I suck it up.

I cry some more as I sanitize my very existence the entire way home. Thankfully, I haven’t had a massive panic at work in a few weeks, but still have stressful moments.

How can we ever return to large classes with hands-on corrections with clients? Or large venues hosting live bands? Or crowded in at our favourite pub?

And most scary of all… what if there is a second wave?

I grieve for the studio that closed and it’s amazing owner; for friends who have lost their livelihoods. I grieve my career losses. I grieve the ability to feel “normal”.

In the last six weeks, I’ve written one other blog post. That’s it. I haven’t done my podcast or voice work. I sleep, watch movies and play games on my phone. I walk when I can. I feel sad and unmotivated. And guess what? That is okay! I know I am not alone and I know many have it much worse. It’s okay!

We are allowed to feel however we feel. Some people are spiralling through –or bouncing between — the denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance of grief.


If you are depressed, reach out for help. I promise you are not alone. Here’s a list of GTA crisis centres, including abuse support:

Most importantly, don’t let anyone minimize your feelings. You will handle these unique times in your unique way. So laugh, cry, scream, exercise, drink, meditate, work, walk, play with your dog — whatever you need to do to get through this.

And when life begins to reopen and we have to adjust again, you can feel whatever you need to feel then too.

xo Shawn