Wednesday | 22 April | 2020
By Melodie Veldhuizen
All of us face disappointments from time to time. Some of them one can process fairly easily and carry on with one’s life. However, sometimes the disappointment has a life-changing influence. You do eventually process it, but will never forget it.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown resulted in disappointments of a diverse nature:
- Universities postponed their autumn graduation ceremonies until later this year. The University of Pretoria arranged a virtual ceremony where 11 000 degrees were conferred. On the day of the scheduled ceremony a video with a congratulatory message as well as an electronic version of the relevant faculty’s programme will be sent to every student. The printed certificates will be handed over later at a ceremony. This is a second prize after one has worked hard for four years and dreamt about the big day and everything going with it, such as showing off in your gown, photo sessions, congratulations and festivities.
- For many people birthdays did not go the way they dreamt of. Little children were looking forward to their birthday parties. Landmark birthday celebrations were planned. Somebody reported that at her mother’s 89th birthday last year they told her that she was going nowhere because they were going to celebrate her 90th birthday on 27 April 2020. Her grandson, who lives in Britain and will celebrate his 30th birthday on 29 April, already bought his air ticket some time ago. The grandson’s air ticket and all his party arrangements were cancelled. Granny’s birthday arrangements were placed on ice until things are less uncertain.
- Marriage ceremonies also fell along the way. A couple planned to get married on 11 April. They had to replan and the marriage has now been postponed until 7 November.
- Grandchildren are born and you cannot meet the newcomer straightaway.
- Theatre productions and artists’ performances as well as large art festivals have been cancelled.
- Children have already begun to prepare for eisteddfods, art competitions and debating competitions and now lose the opportunity to show off their talents.
- Sporting events at professional as well as amateur level bound to specific times of the year cannot go ahead.
- Almost everything in your house has been packed ready to be moved to your new house, but now you may not move house.
- You are on the point of emigrating but not all the documents were ready when the lockdown was announced and the whole process has been interrupted temporarily.
- Family holidays had to be cancelled ─ to many families the Easter weekend holidays, even more so than the Christmas holidays, is the opportunity to visit family that live far away.
- Overseas tours and ocean cruises planned long ago, is an unfulfilled dream.
- A grandmother who looked forward to her annual visit to her children in Australia had to canvel her visit.
How to handle the disappointments
If you feel that you are powerless, there are ways to process and handle your disappointments:
- Admit and recognise your situation as a loss ─ the loss of a dream. You may be angry and disappointed and feel sad about it. It may not seem so bad compared to others who suffer more, but to you it is no trivial matter. And you need not feel guilty about your reaction.
- Accept the situation as something unavoidable that has happened. It’s unpleasant and you think it’s unfair, but there is nothing you can do about it.
- To help your children handle their disappointment over a cancelled holiday or a birthday without a party is even more difficult than processing your own disappointment. Spoil him or her on his or her birthday by still baking a nice cake and making other party delicacies to make him or her to feel special. And reassure your chidren that you will go for a holiday some day. Be careful with promises and a commitment to a specific time.
- Take care of your physical, emotional and mental welfare.
- Relax and do things you like that will divert your attention from your disappointment.
- Stay in contact with your loved ones and people who understand your disappointment and sadness. It is therapeutic to talk to somebody who minds but is objective at the same time. It can help you to put the matter in perspective.
- Keep a journal and write down every emotion ─ anger, sadness, disappointment, dejectedness. You may find out that your emotions van vary from day to day and that you will even experience moments of positivity.
- Help other people ─ it takes the focus away from your own disappointments and makes you realise that you still have much to be grateful for.
- Try to approach the matter positively. There is still so much to be grateful for. All your loved ones are still healthy and there is still a lifetime ahead to see and visit each other. Make a gratefulness list of all the good things that have experienced, no matter how few. No situation is hopeless. Start dreaming about the future again and set new targets. If possible, try to reschedule events. Eventhough the future is still uncertain, it gives you something to hang onto ─ hope.
“The big secret is to process disappointments and go on living. We must not allow disappointments to make us world-weary. Don’t lie down. Get up and live again. A disappointmet is not the end of life. Disappointments make the eventual successes much nicer and enjoyable.” (Ampie Barnard)
Little Guide. https://www.littleguidedetroit.com/talking-to-your-kids-about-covid-19-trip-cancellations-and-disappointments/
Universiteit van Pretoria. https://www.up.ac.za/news/post_2886207-up-awards-11-000-qualifications-in-absentia-during-virtual-graduation-ceremony
* All information was correct at the time of publication.