July 15, 2020


Joel Nodelman

2020 – A Crazy Year of Crisis, Chaos, and Change

About the author

Joel is an engineer and risk management specialist with over forty years of professional practice. He is committed to helping his clients achieve climate resiliency and sustainability.

Today more thoughts about 2020; a crazy year full of crisis, chaos, and change. 

Earlier this week, I started my morning with my usual browse through social media. One of my friends shared a Facebook post that I found very distressing. The poster ranted about being sick and tired of a bunch of things:

  • COVID;
  • Race issues;
  • Politics;
  • LBGTQ rights;
  • The media;
  • Bad language;
  • And a bunch of other stuff.
  • Musing on Crazy Rants

    I mused about this all morning. Why had it disturbed me so much?

    These are all challenging issues. It has been a crazy year of crisis and chaos. We are all sick and tired. So, I can go along with that part of the message. But there was something under it all that just felt bad to me.

    Finally, it came to me. The post was a plea to return to the status quo and deny the realties we all face.

    Answers to Difficult Questions about Crazy Rants

    2020 - A Crazy Year of Crisis, Chaos, and Change

    Difficult Questions about Crazy Rants

    My first reaction was COVID, race issues, politics, and all the rest don't care if you are sick and tired. They affect you, no matter how you feel about it. These things are real. We have to cope with them, one way or another.

    Then another answer popped out at me. The underlying messaging in the post was grief. So, what does all of this have to do with grief?

    Crazy Rants and Grief

    At the risk of going all academic, remember there are five phases of grief:

    • Denial;
    • Anger;
    • Depression;
    • Bargaining; and
    • Acceptance.

    But it all starts with a loss. Traditionally, we think of the death of a loved one, but we all experience many losses in our lifetime and with each, we go through periods of grief. The intensity and duration varies, depending on the extent of the loss, but the process is consistent.

    2020 - A Crazy Year of Loss

    In 2020, we have experienced a ton of loss; sick friends and loved ones, crazy numbers of deaths, violence in the streets; let alone the loss of our basic freedom to gather, socialize, and travel without all these crazy new rules.

    The poster was angry, a very normal reaction to loss. There were also some elements of denial and bargaining in the post, but surely, no sense of acceptance.

    Crazy Anger and Grief

    As a science nerd, I had reacted to the illogic of post. I thought, these things are real and my feelings won't change any of it. I know that people who deny and rail against a crisis are often the first to be hurt, and in the process they may draw first-responders and care-givers into harm’s way. So, it can be a very dangerous.

    But the post was also an honest expression of anger and depression about the crazy events of 2020. That’s real too. Arguing with folks doesn't make the emotion any less real.

    2020 - A Crazy Year of Crisis, Chaos, and Change

    2020 - A Crazy Year of Crisis, Chaos, and Change

    My Dilemma

    So, now I face a dilemma. How do I accept the legitimate grief but not the path to even greater tragedy?

    I don't claim to be an expert on any of this, but it seems to me the first step is to listen patiently while folks vent their grief. I need to accept that the grief is real and hopefully find some common ground. We don't all react to the crises and chaos of 2020 in the same way, but still, we are all in this together. Only be working together can we solve the problems 2020 exposed. 

    So what is the common ground? These things are real. COVID threatens all of us, race issues affect us all, political processes will guide our path forward, and angry venting is a normal human reaction to grief.

    Eventually, we have to accept the loss and start moving forward. Together, we are working toward a new normal. We all have a stake in this. We need to help each other through the feelings of loss to make the new normal a better place than the old.

    Let's Chat

    I'd love to hear your thoughts about the current unrest. Please comment below.

    I have devoted several videos to the crises we have confronted in 2020. If you would like to hear more, check out our first offering on Crisis, Response and Recovery.

    If you wish feel free to contact us directly.

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