We are, without a doubt, living in an unprecedented time. So many of our practices and routines have been interrupted by this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. With so many important events being canceled, there is definitely enough grief and sadness to go around as we mourn all that we’re missing. This disappointment and heartbreak, however, pales in comparison to if you lose a loved one during this difficult time. Those who have experienced loss in the midst of this pandemic have not been able to celebrate their loved ones’ lives as they normally would have. The question of “How do we grieve?” becomes increasingly difficult to answer.
The notion of loss during this pandemic has been on my heart since this all started. However, it became extremely personal and real to me last week. One of my close relatives passed away suddenly, and it came as quite a shock. Luckily, it was not related to the pandemic, but it does not make it any less hard. Due to social distancing, I am unable to be with my family. We cannot celebrate his life as we want to until all of this is over. This experience has made me ask this question: How do I mourn the loss of someone I love without a funeral or the support of my family?
Grief during any time isn’t one size fits all – everyone experiences loss differently and copes in their own way.
Personally, channeling pain through creative expression has always been my way of getting through difficult times. Thankfully, such creative outlets are still available during this pandemic. Creating something is a way to bring your experience into physical reality. Writing down your feelings regarding your day-to-day experiences is an intentional way to sort through your grief. I have also found that writing a letter to your lost loved one can help bring some closure and peace. Even something as simple as typing out how you feel that day and sending it to someone you trust can help you recognize your feelings and receive support. What’s more, other forms of creative expression, such as art, can be very therapeutic and allow you to truly feel all of your emotions.
One thing that is important for us to remember during this impossibly hard time is that this pandemic hasn’t stolen our ability to reach out and connect with our families. It doesn’t have the power to take away the chance to remember the loved ones that we have lost. As a result, it’s still important to rely on family support when experiencing grief – even if we can’t be with them in person. It’s also important to still do what we can to celebrate their life in ways that are available until it is safe to hold our traditional grieving practices. One way my family has been doing this is by sharing pictures with each other via text and talking about our memories. We’ve called and just cried on the phone, but we’ve also laughed when talking about the funny memories and good times we had together.
It’s important that we still do these things because the truth of the matter is that life doesn’t stop in the midst of a pandemic.
Yes, some things have come entirely to a halt. But our grief cannot stay idle. We still have to work through our feelings and process all of these hard emotions. But most importantly, you must give yourself grace. This time is new and hard – especially when the loss of a loved one becomes a part of the story. It is perfectly okay to struggle with what this pandemic means for those of us who are grieving. It is also perfectly okay if you are not okay.
So do all that you can to process this. When all of this is over, find comfort in knowing that we will get to celebrate our loved ones in the ways in which we find meaningful. At the end of this pandemic, we will get closure – we will get through this together.