For those who remember there was a week of protests in Melbourne. A lot of angry people who were venting. Melbourne is the world champion of Covid lockdown. Melbourne has had less covid cases than many cities of the same size. For many angry Melbournians this is neither proof nor justification that lockdowns are effective.
As a Melbournian who has watched, listened and read online and local responses to lockdown I saw a familiar pattern. I realised it when I saw the recent lockdown protests. Anger, Disbelief, Shock, Denial, Bargaining, Guilt, Depression.
All of these emotional states are part of the stages of grief. Do some basic internet searching and you’ll find the list. As the child of a mental health professional I have seen and heard a lot about how maintain your mental health. I understand what needs to be done when your life changes due to loss.
Lockdown is About Loss
Lockdown for all of us in Melbourne has been about loss. Lost jobs, lost connections, lost routine. As of this year it has extended to moving home. Even loss of housing due to not being able to pay rent. For those who were living rough who were taken into hotels, there are soon to be ejected.
When it comes to events that cause stress the top three are death of a loved one, moving house and new job. Loss of routine is big. Loss of connection especially connection to family and friends, that is huge. When your normal routine is shattered you have to find a new one. When you cannot maintain connections loneliness is a huge weight.
When these events occur you have the opportunity to respond to them. You can decide to adapt to the new to make good of the situation. However you will find yourself looking back to what was before. In the media the call for “going back to normal” was rife last year. It almost did get back to normal. Almost.
Grief on Repeat
Then Melbourne found itself back in lockdown. Back with cases across the western and northern suburbs again. Back to 5km limits, to essential workers only, to 9pm curfew. As a person who has a job that is essential I have not stopped working. Yes I wear a mask delivering pizza but I have not had to stop, yet.
So far I have been talking about grief at a personal level. What happens when a whole city is all at once going through the stages of grief. All at different points of the stages, all at the same time.
A Tale of Two Industries
Construction has been an essential service from the beginning. Like my job construction has not stopped, till a few weeks ago. If you can remember back to April 2020 the same occurred to the Meat Processing Industry. Due to the working conditions and the connections between workers covid was rife and plants were shutdown.
Construction sites were targeted by state authorities. Due to low compliance to covid safe regulations the state government ordered a two week shut down. Union bosses were in reluctant agreement. It was expected that the chain of authority would lead to compliance. It did not.
Unlike the Meat Processing shutdown in 2020 this was different. Early in 2020 the fear of pandemic was very fresh. Lockdown had not occurred and there was no use of the phrases ‘new normal’ or ‘covid normal’. People had not been through the loss of lockdown to emerge and then to find themselves back in lockdown again.
2021 Melbourne was like a cancer patient being told that they are no longer in remission. After doing everything required to get out of care, to only have to return once again to the hospital bed. That devastates entire families. Extrapolate that to a whole city. Big huh.
Normally grief happens everyday. For those unfortunate to have multiple griefs, it compounds. The stress it creates and puts people through...well lets just say a lot. Anger, Despair, Disbelief, Bargaining, Shock, Depression. These are the responses that hopefully we pass through to find an acceptance.
Hopefully. Because I can clearly see through the actions of so many others that they are still going through the phases of grief. It has given me an insight into why people are doing what they are doing. Not to justify poor or problematic behaviour, but to lend you the knowledge to show compassion to those who are burdened and heavy laden.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.