This post took me a long time to write, and the thoughts in it are still a little unpolished, but it felt good to finally get it out of my drafts folder. Each person’s grief is unique, and we’ve all had more than our share of losses over the past few years. I don’t pretend that my losses are bigger than anyone else’s or give me special insight, but I’m sharing my thoughts in case someone finds them helpful.
The fear spiral
“I need to finish this project today so I can invoice for it and get paid next month and pay my bills and maybe a walk will clear my head but I don’t have time for a walk because I need to finish this project today and also the dishes need washing and also the world’s on fire and all I want to do is look at memes and OH YEAH, THE DEADLINE, and where did that last hour go, and now I’m further behind and my brain is so full that I can barely remember the plot of the book I’m editing and oh crap oh crap oh crap.”
The fear spiral can lead to the disappointed-in-myself spiral (“I only managed two hours of work today, and that sucks”), and sometimes the grief-guilt counterspiral complicates matters (“Am I heartless for thinking about work at all right now?”), making it even harder to shift my focus back to my editing. It can feel almost callous to try to shut out everything else going on in our lives and in the world and turn our minds to fact-checking period-specific details in a historical novel or hunting down awkward line breaks on page proofs, but this is what editing and proofreading demand. Not 24/7, of course, but even a 20-minute pomodoro can feel like an eternity when it involves trying to shove aside texts, emails, an interesting article someone tweeted about, sadness, anger, strong memories, fading memories, and the sudden realization that someone important to me isn’t there anymore – a realization that is no less jarring the 20th time it hits me that day.