“Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.”—Henri Nouwen
As we passed the first anniversary of our COVID lockdown, I chose to reflect on what I learned, how I loved and how I grieved.
How does one label the feelings of grief when dealing with a sudden change of lifestyle or when coping with incredible stress, anxiety and confusion?
Last week, I came across a most enlightening article in the New York Times about disenfranchised grief. The term was coined by Kenneth J. Doka, a bereavement expert, who studied unacknowledged grief.
Unacknowledged grief is grief that that does not have a social ritual attached to it—losing a job, losing out on the experience of campus life or a college graduation, your high school prom, the opportunity to participate in a competition you’ve trained hard for such as the Southeast Games or the Tokyo Olympics, the big grand wedding you planned for years, the family bonding on a planned vacation, the precious time you have with your aging parents or your closest friends.
With the lockdown, the sudden deprivation of all the socialization we have in our lives no doubt helped create these feelings of loss. In my case, the loss of the warm and personal connections I have with people when traveling, hosting parties, attending events and planning my philanthropic activities such as the Red Charity Gala contributed to my own unacknowledged grief.
The sadness of all these losses cumulatively results in grief. Disenfranchised and unacknowledged, but very real grief. And just knowing that I am not the only one who is going through this is a relief. It feels good to acknowledge the feelings, share them and talk about them openly, rather than give up hope!
So now more than ever, I want to focus on love! I decided to reflect on the five languages of love: words of affirmation, gift-giving, acts of service, quality time and physical touch.
I find myself thinking more and more about my husband Dennis, my four children and their partners, my grandson Louie, my siblings and their families, and my parents. Each of these people in my life is a unique individual, so I have to find the right love language for each of them—special, customized and situational; a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Relating to each of them with the language of love each one needs, I can lessen their grief and give them strength and hope to live a purposeful, meaningful and loving life. COVID or no COVID.
On the last weekend of March, Women’s Month, I wish to highlight some amazing women who balance both family and work with grace and ease, especially during these unusual times.
Solenn Heussaff, a French-Filipina painter whose work is rooted in social realism, embarks on her third solo exhibit in Manila. Each of her canvases is a product of months of labor-intensive work based on photographs she had taken. Her exhibit, “Kundiman” (defined as a classic form of a Filipino love song), is Solenn’s heartfelt expression of love and appreciation for the Filipino people.
Her work provides audiences with an opportunity to see her subjects wholly. The perspectives of her paintings show an awareness of her subjects’ conditions, but most importantly, an acknowledgement of their humanity. In the same light, the subjects in her paintings stare blankly back at the audience, as if to ask, “What’s next?”
Teresa Herrera-Anthony, the curator of this exhibit, shared that Solenn fills the jungle scenes with layers of foliage and creatures, giving depth and richness to the pieces as well as messages of hope, morality and optimism.
If asked who my role model is, my answer is my mother, Marixi Prieto. In a generation where women were predominantly housewives or stay-at-home mothers, my mom was a brilliant business executive.
For as long as I can remember, she has been driven, passionate about family and work, and also the most charitable person I know! She is strict but fair, always there for business advice and/or marital support. She is a true example of a devoted and patient wife and a nurturing mother, grandmother, and now great-grandmother.
I have rediscovered my connection with my eldest daughter Jordan Valdes. Choosing to lockdown here in Tali Beach until Easter, Jordan has kept me in good company and shares youthful insights. Her excitement, passion and patience for her postgrad life plans are inspiring to witness.
I now share her lifestyle of eating plant-based. Over the break, we discovered Burger Beast, the latest online-only burger brand. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, Burger Beast accepts orders at any time, courtesy of GrabFood or Foodpanda.
Created by award-winning chef Carlo Miguel, it has recently added a new range of burgers fit for vegetarians out there, so good even a carnivore would crave them. The Beyond Meat patty takes center stage. Burger Beast created three veggie-fied versions inspired by their original burgers, namely: Beyond Meat Mushroom Burger, Beyond Meat Blue Cheeseburger and the famous Beyond Meat Umami Burger (@burgerbeastph Facebook and Instagram).
I can’t wait to go diving with Jordan and our dive instructor Gigi Santos when it’s safe and allowed. I look forward to seeing Jordan’s underwater film photos, like ones she took in Anilao’s Portulano Dive Resort, which you can see on her photography Instagram (@jordanspov) or on her website (jordanprietovaldes.com). Portulano’s owner Carmela Sevilla also took photos of some huge tuna while we were hoping to spot some eagle rays (tel. 0917-5404257; portulano.com).Stay safe physically as well as mentally! This, too, shall pass! INQ