BY Pallavi Sahu
Howls, cries, heart-breaking stories, loss of loved ones, grief have taken the forefront in our lives. This pandemic has led to an existential crisis. Nowhere to go, running around anxiously, looking for some medium to save lives-human tragedy is at its peak in my country-looks like an apocalyptic level has reached. Every second has become precious due to the oxygen crisis. The whole atmosphere echoes hopelessness and helplessness! An invisible enemy- a tiny virus, compelled us to fall to our knees.
My thought process is diluted nowadays. The situation is so overwhelming that I feel choked while reading about our country’s plight. I notice my mind visualizing the displayed image of the pyre of dead bodies. Anxiety over covid status leads to death, patients’ jumps from hospital building-such news awakens me to the reality of new pandemic ahead-Mental Health Crisis.
Such news forces me to think –how to collect ourselves amidst the heart-wrenching grief, loss, and suffering-from where to find the meaning of our lives! Many of us must have gone through or still might be going through a phase of existential crisis when we might have asked ourselves a few profound questions-What is the purpose of my existence? What is the meaning of my life? Why am I still here? Such questions pop up in our minds without prior notice, especially at such overwhelming times. And in such a scenario, such questions are typical to pop up. It is okay to feel anxious; it is okay to grief and be quiet. It is okay to give yourself time.
But the question remains the same-from where to find the strength to move on?
I have always found myself being inspired by Victor Frankl, because of his profound level of positivity amidst crises. He lost his entire family in the concentration camp, every possession was lost. He suffered from cold, brutality, hunger, and the encounter of death and dying every single day yet he did not lose hope. He carved meaning out of his life in a deep crisis. The situation, where every single day, death was staring into his eyes. He kept moving, he found his life worth preserving.
In one of his books, Man’s search for Meaning, he shared “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears towards a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how’.”
In the preface of Man’s Search for Meaning, Gordon W.Allport shared, “Dr. Frankl, author-psychiatrist, sometimes asks his patients who suffer from the multitude of torments great and small, “Why do you not commit suicide?’ From their answers he can often find the guide-line for his psycho-therapy: in one life there is love for one’s children to tie to; In another life, a talent to be used; In a third, perhaps only lingering memories worth preserving.”
His experience in the concentration camp and his patients’ willingness to live life fully despite all odds led to his discovery of logotherapy. To weave these slender threads of a broken life into a firm pattern of meaning and responsibility is the object and challenge of logotherapy, which is Dr. Frankl’s version of modern existential analysis.
I always gained strength from Victor Frankl’s way of life. I believe, we always have a choice- the choice to suffer or to live with what we are left with. The choice is always ours-so does the willingness to permit a smile to touch your face amidst crisis. When we cannot change the situation, let us try to make it livable, bearable for us.
Profound learning from Victor Frankl’s way of perceiving life to stick on to, when life feels like a burden, when we are losing hope and when our lives circumstances are beyond our control
- That hope goes a long way – always lookout for a ray of hope to cling on to-it will give purpose and meaning to our lives.
- That grieving is a process-it is okay to grieve and it is okay to embrace suffering to keep moving ahead in life.
- That we need to keep moving-you will always find one reason to walk ahead in your life.
- That life is beautiful and worth living-we might need to change the glasses we put on to look at things differently. Put on the glasses of hope.
- That crisis, suffering, loss, death, and dying are an integral part of our existence-accept it to embrace the pain.
- That stick to the purpose of your life-keep reminding yourself when you are becoming vulnerable.
Few lines from Man’s Search for Meaning to help us relook and revisit our perspective towards life, death, and dying-
In the concentration camp, every circumstance conspires to make prisoners lose their hold. All the familiar goals in life are snatched away. What alone remains is ‘the last of human freedom’-the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.
Thank you for your time and patience. If you enjoyed reading my post, please like, follow, share and comment & thanks again for visiting my page. Stay Safe, Best Wishes, Pallavi Sahu Psychologist pausementalwellnessstudio.com
Please Note-In these unprecedented times of pandemic, when everyone is suffering in some or other way, I want to do my bit by providing Pro Bono Counselling Services, for now. If you are reading this, feel free to contact me if you are in need for help. Let’s do our bit to make this world a better place.
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5 thoughts on “Existential Crisis at the Time of the Pandemic ”
Very inspiring and meaningful post in this present time of fears and despair 🙏🏻
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I am personally living this fear each single day as my son and myself are fighting with Covid since few days….but I know it shall pass and we need to be hopeful,positive all the time..
Hope you and your son are feeling good now🙏🏻
We are feeling better now…atlast,tested negative for Covid.. thanks Namrata!
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