in the days of covid-19 we need to get better at grief. and quick!04 Apr 2020
this post could be 10x longer than i’m going to make it. ::takes a deep breath and dives in anyways::
i have been noticing something since reading that hbr article about grief. in very few spaces i move in have we been talking about loss. we talk a lot about the worry or anxiety of potential losses but not actual loss itself. (the big exception to this is spaces where we’re talking about lost work/jobs/income for gig workers or artists).
i think i learned about the grief of things i didn’t even have yet during the breakup of my first long-term relationship. at the time i called it “mourning the loss of potential futures.” it was all of the crying i did about all the plans we’d made that would never come true. and as i processed that experience with some friends, i realized that people not grieving the loss of potential futures was actually a major block in moving on.
anyway, all of this makes me think about ALL of the loss that we are experiencing in this moment. obviously, depending on who you are, you might be losing more or less but some things i am seeing being lost are:
- sense of security and safety
- trust in the federal and global governments
- capacity to plan for the future
- grasp on linear time
- trust in physical touch
- belief in large scale systems: schools, healthcare, business/capitalism
sidenote: some folks haven’t believed in those things for a long time or ever. that doesn’t change the fact that, as a society and as individuals, we are all impacted by anyone grieving the loss of any of those things.
grieving these things is important because, as i learned from joanna macy, moving through grief is what allows us to get really clear about what to do next. when we don’t really feel the loss(es), we take actions that are clouded. in some ways, this is what audre lorde said with her essay on anger, particularly the sentence beginning “But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification…” ha, actually now that i go back and look, she actually says “Anger is a grief of distortions between peers.” dang. it’s wild how stuff can be right in front of your face and you don’t see it til you’re ready.
ok this post has been way more all over the place than even i expected but here’s one last thought: one of the most twisted and complex parts of covid the fact that we can’t gather for mourning rituals (funerals, wakes, shivas (is shiva plural or is it shivas?))! americans are notoriously bad at (individual and collective) grieving already and now the few practices some of us have access to, we can’t do in person. of course, there is always online, but we either knew before and/or know now that while online gatherings can work, they are definitely not the same.
what. to. do. i truly believe that in every challenge there is an opportunity… so how do we find this one?
articles & resources on grief:
- The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise by Martin Prechtel
- The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief
- Malidoma Somé: Grief, Ritual and Sacrifice
- That COVID-19 Feeling? It’s Called ‘Anticipatory Grief
- Grief support systems have been wrecked by COVID-19
- Grief and COVID-19: Mourning our bygone lives
- that discomfort you’re feeling is grief
words / writing / post-processing
437w / 20min / 7min