Mindfully creating the new normal: Global Grief Survey

By Antonio Sausys

We are living in unprecedented times as a result of the coronavirus/COVID-19 and associated restrictions. Although we all know—on at least some level—that all things are impermanent, we become attached to the continued availability of things or people’s presence to grant us comfort, safety, and well-being. When we lose access to those things and people, our comfort, safety, and well-being can be lost, too.

Like never before, these losses, whether transitory or permanent, are happening at the same time to all of us. Grief is the normal human reaction to losing what we are attached to, so without a doubt we have been ushered into an unprecedented episode of global grief.

What will you hold onto?

Because we identify ourselves through our attachments—for example, think about how “we” win when our favorite team wins—our previous world identity is now shattered and scattered. A new identity will inevitably form as we recover from these personal and collective losses.

As parts of the world attempt to reopen under the anxious watch of the other parts, some people just want to return to what was, whereas others hope we never repeat the old ways. At the moment, many individual choices are resulting in community behaviors that meet our immediate needs and grant us some comfort—clapping in gratitude to first responders, learning to use online meeting platforms to maintain our social and family lives, or wearing a mask in public to avoid spreading a virus we don’t even know we carry. In the future, such decisions will determine our behaviors and ultimately forge the world’s new identity.

But also, perhaps tired of the uncertainty and fueled by hope, we may start to forget some of the deep insights we gained. Four questions are jumping to the forefront in the minds of many of us:

  • What do I want to keep from this altered life, and what would I prefer to let go of?
  • What do I want to bring back from prepandemic life, and what would be better to release?

Creating accountability and insight

Identifying and recording our priorities now—while they are at the forefront of awareness in mind, body, and spirit—will help us to move forward mindfully and avoid the individual and collective mistakes of the past. One means of reflecting on these key questions is the online Global Grief Survey I’ve set up. 

Whether you use that tool or another to prompt reflection, you’ll want to reassess your answers when the shock of the new reality subsides.* Setting an intention to revisit present choices and beliefs will serve us all in the creation of accountability. This light of awareness also serves when we inevitably need to make choices—not based on what an institution dictated, a leader suggested, or some country typically has done, but rather based on what you declared as your values and priorities.

An advantage of the globally oriented tool is that when we learn about the world’s results, this knowledge will help us all to forge a new sense of belonging, one in which our similarities can be recognized and celebrated and our differences respected and honored.

Antonio Sausys, MA, IGT, CMT, C-IAYT, is a somatic psychologist and yoga therapist specializing in grief counseling. He authored Yoga for Grief Relief: Simple Practices for Transforming Your Grieving Mind and Body and is founder and executive director of the International Yoga Therapy Conference.


*If you choose to take the survey and provide your email address, I will send you a follow-up survey in a few months, then a report summarizing all responses. The survey is available in 14 languages, so please consider sharing it as a tool for others, too.