January 28, 2022

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Film Club: ‘Grieving Our Old Normal’

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Grieving Our Old Normal” is a four-minute film that touches on themes of loss, acceptance and our all-too-human struggle to make sense of life in a pandemic and all that we can never get back. In this Opinion video, Lindsay Crouse, one of the filmmakers, asks us to reckon with a new, cold reality: After all of the deaths, the canceled weddings, the lonely birthday celebrations, the boredom and the terror, “There is no going back to normal. Your old life is gone. But whether you wanted to or not, you were building a new one. You still are. What do you want your new life to be?”

How do you make sense of this moment, two years into the pandemic? Do you agree with Ms. Crouse’s advice? How do we mourn everything we’ve lost? How do we begin to accept — and perhaps, one day, attempt to move on?

Students

1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.

2. After watching, think about these questions:

  • What questions do you still have?

  • What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: How do we mourn everything we’ve lost to Covid?

4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.

6. To learn more, read “Grieving Our Old Normal.” Lindsay Crouse, Kirby Ferguson and Emily Holzknecht, the filmmakers, write:

That’s right: We’re all two years older than when we first shut ourselves inside for lockdown. If we assumed the Covid pandemic would be brief, we were wrong. So if you feel like a withered old sloth these days wallowing around and yearning for your old life, that’s understandable. But there’s no use. It’s gone.

The stunning number of lives lost to Covid is its own appalling tragedy. But the video above is about a different kind of grief many of us are experiencing right now: the kind that comes with the gnawing realization that we really need to grieve the parts of our lives that have disappeared, even as they continue to slip away. As another year ends and Covid surges again, it’s clear nothing will change soon.

Forget resilience. Forget silver linings. Right now, it’s time to decide: How do we mourn everything we’ve lost? Once we do that, hopefully at some point, we can attempt something even harder: moving on.


Want more student-friendly videos? Visit our Film Club column.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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