Changing the conversation about health

Listening in troubled times: Coping with the universal grief of COVID-19

Anne Pitman, director of the School of Embodied Yoga Therapy in Ottawa and a yogatherapist at the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Center explores the sense of grief that we’re all experiencing during the pandemic and how to deal with it…

In an interview with video streaming service HealthFlix, Pitman reflects on the universality of the pandemic, saying: ‘No matter where you are; in your house, in the hospital or stacking the shelf in the grocery store, what connects us at the moment is the grief of these times.’

Embracing the negative aspects of living during the current pandemic can make it easier to deal with them, says Ottawa yogatherapist Anne Pitman in an interview with HealthFlix

The yogatherapist says that it’s important to reflect on the ‘incredible things’ that are coming out of the pandemic as people act with kindness and creativity.

‘It’s just been an unbelievable time to notice what comes from this deep grief that’s happening right now and it’s important to see that grief is much more than sadness.’

Pitman references the work of US poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who wrote in her poem Kindness:

‘Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing;

you must wake up with sorrow; you must speak it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrow and you see the size of the cloth.’

Yogatherapist Anne Pitman, from Ottawa, discusses the impact of universal grief during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pitman relates Shibab Nye’s work to the current pandemic, saying the poem ‘speaks to the idea that kindness and sorrow may not be opposites, that maybe one actually speaks to the other or something arises in that place of sorrow.’

She explains: ‘In our culture, we have this idea that there is such a thing as positive and negative – and negative seems to be all about sadness and fear and anxiety, and that we’re really only meant to pay attention to the positive.

‘I wonder if we might at least suspend that belief for the moment as we come to know grief is something much deeper and that it kindles our love of life.’