Some Thoughts on Our Collective Grief

I keep telling myself that the one constant we have right now is that the sun will always rise and set.

After my mom died, I was on an emotional rollercoaster. Some days I was sad and scared. Some days I was angry. Some days I was in denial.

And some days, I was just fine until something reminded me that she was no longer here.

Sound familiar? That’s because we are going through a collective grief right now.

There’s a great interview on Harvard Business Review with David Kessler, who co-wrote the famous On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. He explains that it’s real to be grieving the loss of normalcy while also feeling anticipatory grief for what may happen.

I want to take a second to thank everyone from healthcare workers to grocery store workers to Amazon delivery people for the massive sacrifices they are all making every day to save lives or to keep us stocked with normalcy.

But to everyone else, your feelings matter, too, and are not to be minimized. (If I’ve learned anything throughout the years, it’s that minimizing and burying feelings only magnifies them later.) Anything you’re feeling right now is valid.

And if you’ve lost someone close to you, you’re likely feeling that extra layer of grief. I’m not sure I’ve had a therapy session since this all began where my mom hasn’t come up. I wish I could call her right now and she could tell me everything will be OK. I wish she could give me a hug, and we could talk together about how scary this is. I wish I could hear her say “a little bug is causing all this trouble?” (I know for a fact that is what she’d say.)

Seeing all these hospital scenes is also bringing back intense flashbacks of the times I spent in the hospital with her, sometimes racing there, afraid I’d be too late. She also suffered a number of respiratory issues as her health declined, so that’s triggering to me as well. I’ve had all kinds of dreams like this lately.

And depression thrives in isolation, so if you’ve dealt with depression, make sure that you’re physically distanced right now, not socially distanced. Make Zoom or FaceTime dates with friends. Find an online group to join or some kind of digital content to consume like you’re going to some kind of lecture. My former therapist, Claire Bidwell Smith, is doing weekly live calls about this collective grief and anxiety we’re all facing.

My promise to you is that you are not alone, even if it feels that way right now. (This is also a reminder to myself.)

How are you doing? What are you doing to cope right now? What’s a bright spot in your life right now?

2 comments on “Some Thoughts on Our Collective Grief

  1. Melissa

    It’s funny – a few weeks ago, it hit me HARD that my summer plans to see my family that I hadn’t seen in 6 months probably wasn’t happening this summer, and the vacation that my husband and I were planning to take to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary was also cancelled. I was a mess all weekend and I scheduled a session with my therapist. When I told him what happened, the first thing he said was, “Well, that sounds like grief.” I honestly hadn’t thought about that, which seems dumb now. I’m luckier than most – I have a house, my husband and I still have our jobs, and we’re all healthy. How could I grieve over a vacation. But as soon as he said that, it was like it was OK to have felt those feelings. Thanks for being so honest in your writing. Love your blog.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      Nothing you’re feeling right now is silly, and I saw someone write yesterday: this isn’t the Pain Olympics. It’s good to have perspective but also notice these feelings are valid. Things hit me really hard on Easter, yesterday, and all of that is valid.


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