Grief is hard to talk about, and hard to admit to. It’s a feeling often riddled with shame and talked about in whispers. It brings with it a sense of confusion—an inability to communicate the depths or reasons for it. Grief is perplexing, and we often only talk about it in very specific situations: You only grieve when someone dies.
But over these past few weeks, grief is a sentiment I’ve heard communicated from a lot of people. Myself included, it seems many of us are having a hard time describing our current feelings. We’re all experiencing some type of loss during this pandemic, with hours and days, and maybe even weeks, being lanced with waves of grief. Grief. How do we accommodate for grief outside of physical loss? How does one grieve when perhaps no one has died?
Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior. Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind.
The only way I know how to deal with complicated feelings, is to talk about them openly—to shed light on what we keep hidden, to ensure the messy bits of being human are seen and heard. Grief is uncomfortable, unpredictable and exhausting. Grief is normal and natural. Grief does not make you weak or less than. Grief is an emotional response to loss. And it’s okay to be sad over what we’ve lost, both individually and collectively.
I asked three of our writers if they could share what they’re currently grieving, and I’d love to know your answers too. Comment down below.
What have you lost during this pandemic? No matter how small, what makes you sad, or angry, or [insert emotion] about what you’ve lost? What are you currently grieving?
I have been grieving my imagined future, that inner story in my mind always running a little film projector of what lies ahead. I was about to leave for NYC to begin a (potential) new life, but canceled my trip on March 10th due to mounting concern about COVID-19. NY was where I was going to go to grieve 16 years of living in Los Angeles, the end of a career and a relationship. I was going there precisely because I wanted to be immersed in its movements, to be inspired by its energy. Now I feel somewhat formless; there is no particular place to direct my energies for the future. It is too uncertain. Some mornings I’ve been angry and spiteful, only to resolve into acceptance. Other days my stomach churns from stress or anxiety, while other times I am shockingly calm about the ambiguous road the future brings. My greatest comfort comes when I ground myself—through meditation, breathing, or yoga—into my body; when I remember that I am in my body, right here, right now. The moment I am living in, now, is where my energies deserve the greatest attention. I have lost the idea of one life, perhaps, so that I could build another I may have never imagined.
Staying home during COVID-19 has brought up a lot of time for reflection. I usually live so fast, I don’t have a lot of time to digest and reflect before moving onto the next phase. With this, the grief of my father and uncle passing nearly eight years ago has been surfacing again. Reading about how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Black Americans brings up so much—it makes me think about how painful it was to lose my dad and my uncle, how I felt like a piece of not only our family history, but our imprint on Black history, was lost in a way. I’m so tired of the effects of systemic racism reverberating, and how the black community is grieving. That’s one of the complexities of a collective trauma like a pandemic—it can trigger the individual traumas everywhere. I’ve been sleeping more than ever, and having extremely vivid dreams. I imagine my subconscious is working out things I had passed over during busy times in my life. I’ve been using a meditation app called Liberate, which has a whole section of ancestral meditations designed for Black folks, inviting us to consciously connect with loved ones on the other side. I’ve been focusing on imagining the future and my individual responsibility. Though I don’t subscribe to any one faith, I have been ruminating on the biblical phrase, “Faith without works is dead.” I apply this phrase quite literally by making conscious contact with my passed loved ones, helping relieve some of the immediate effects of grief. But there is more work to be done. In this, I reflect on the following: How can I be a good ancestor? What decisions can I make in my life that contribute to the livelihood of Black folks? How am I being a good neighbor to those in my immediate life? This keeps me grounded in the here and now, rather than solely reliving painful memories.
I didn’t realize what I was feeling was grief until it became a national conversation. Personally, I haven’t lost anything detrimental—my family still has their health and I still have mine. I have a roof over my head and access to food. I lost my job and a large slew of clients, but (luckily), I can make low-budget work for a while, and California unemployment is pretty speedy. I’m more so grieving a sense of opportunity. As a person in her late 20s who has dipped her toes into a few different careers, I leaned on the idea that I’d eventually “figure it out,” as everyone else seemed to. But here I am, 6 months from turning 30, staring at our declining economy and feeling a bit lost. I wanted to use 2020 to take strides in my career, invest in my passions, and start saving to buy a house. I wanted to enter 30 with an “anything is possible” attitude. But recent events have colored that perspective. Am I jaded now? I hate to think so, but yeah, maybe that’s what this is. In any case, quarantine feels like it’s aged me. Perhaps it’s aged all of us, as we grapple with the fragility of life and the American economy. I can’t classify this as “good” or “bad,” and I think doing so misses the point. It just is. Finding presence in the now, and acceptance, is the best I can do right now, and that’s okay.
LET'S TALK: what are you currently grieving? what have you lost?
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
The loss of my mother is coming up all over again. As though I didn’t allow myself the time and space to feel those feelings, and now being forced to sit with them. Thank you for talking about grief. Pretty much everyone I know is grieving something.
I’m grieving my normal and I feel super guilty about it. I still have an income and a roof over my head, there is so much to be grateful for and yet still, I can’t shake this feeling of grief.
this might sound odd but, it is not a person i grieve. since being sober for two years, i am still grieving my addiction. the relationship i had with my addiction, how it made me feel, how it helped me cope during the hardest moments of my life… sometimes i find myself missing the comfort it brought me.
especially during this quarantine, i am beginning to crave the same substances and behaviours that i was addicted to in the past. i tend to grieve my addiction the most in times of stress and anxiety because my addiction was always something that gave me comfort when i felt the most discomfort. to me, addiction is like an old friend who i used to rely on when i needed support. but i’ve had to cut off that toxic relationship because i got so lost in it and i realized it no longer served me.
i’m currently in the process of writing a poem/letter to my addiction to get all these thoughts and feelings out. i am also practicing yoga, going outside on nature walks and tuning into my breath to ground myself when this comes up for me.
Life a few months ago. Having a job. Old relationships. Old relationships especially. I’ve been calling it my “sad girl quarantine” lol. I’ve been shedding many tears over a past relationships and I have a lot of guilt with how I responded to being wronged. I chose to hurt back with words and acted out of hurt and anger. When I wish I chose compassion and softness. So sitting with these thoughts have been uncomfortable.
I’m simultaneously relieved from the break of my normal, over scheduled life…and grieving my normal.
Being self employed I started saving up for “maternity leave” long ago. I never thought I’d have to stop working unless it was by choice to slow down and start a family. Yet, now we’re here and I can’t work and I’m having to slow down and I have no choice but to use my baby savings to live with no baby in sight. It feels silly to be sad because I’m grateful I have savings and I’m taken care of, but I’m sad.
It’s an ongoing grief- not necessarily pandemic related. But when I see others celebrating career successes that I’ve worked so hard to achieve, but have failed at countless times- I feel a huge sense of loss. Yesterday I saw three of my peers on Instagram celebrating huge wins and I just had to curl up and cry for a bit.
I relate to this as well and take comfort in reminding myself that people don’t always achieve success at the same time and that Instagram is a highlight reel. <3 Social media can be a scary place.
I’m grieving that I cannot spend my quarantine time like the other people who answered your questions (I am a mom). I wish I had time for my passions, hobbies, etc., but it’s the complete opposite for parents being home right now. I am grieving that my partner will not get his expected work promotion due to covid19 (not performance, literally they removed promos despite the few people who are still overperforming), that we can’t take our first family vacation (would be my first vacation in 10 years) after said promo as we planned. That my 5 year old cannot finish kindergarten with her friends, and she will never be at the same school as those friends again.
It has been heavy. I deleted all my personal social media accounts because everything is so triggering for me right now. I considered unfollowing you because of how alone and unrelatable some of the responses I read caused me to feel. Clearly I have a lot of my own work to do still. But again, feel like I lack the time. Also grieving my grandmother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this month and I’m not sure if I will be able to see her again before she passes on.
When COVID hit nyc it was about 7 months post a breakup from a 12 yr relationship. I felt like I was finally getting my footing on my new life that I was building and then the rug was pulled out again. I feel like I was over the hump of grieving that relationship and then bam covid – more grieving! I miss my friends, I miss going to wellness events and trying to new things, I miss dating, I miss my home. I feel hopeless as a 35 yr old single woman now living at her parents (although I still have an income and insurance and I’m so thankful for that).
Long time follower… first time writer here;)
I have been crying more In the last 2 weeks than I ever have. Sobbing. But not out of sadness but more out of release.
Last night I cried and released so much guilt I have around my brother. He has Down syndrome, and it has always been hard for me to see who he really is. Rather than a person who has a disability.
I released a lot of guilt for how I have projected my thoughts of his well being on him. I also let go of some guilt towards my parents of how they treated us so very differently. I also let go of some guilt I carry because I would wonder “how would my life have been different without a sibling with special needs”
This shit is deep rooted. Past lives stuff.
It was the best cry and release I have had.
Wow, re: Phil’s, “feeling formless” hits hard. Can relate.
Loss of our original wedding plan. We tied the knot on our own but still grieving the wedding we thought was ours to have.
I lost my grandpa three weeks ago. He was one of the closest people to me and I wasn’t able to see him for the last three weeks of his life because of covid. I’m not sure that he fully understood why we weren’t there and that specifically has been the hardest part of losing him. I’m angry and sad and find myself being irritated by those who aren’t taking this whole thing seriously. He was 92 and had an amazing life; however my life without him will never be the same.
We lost my husbands mom a month ago. We were less than 3 months into our marriage. I’m grieving the loss of a family member, as well as the loss of what a first year of marriage should look like. Normal hard just turned into ridiculously hard. And sad. Holidays that should be fun aren’t. Not being around our family more during this time doesn’t help. It’s a lot to take on and even more so to do it alone.
The continuous COVID-19 grieving, from being laid off, to having multiple metal breakdowns of what the future holds to breaking up during quarantine and my partner moving out of our home. We’re all grieving right now one way or another but sharing our stories help me get through it all.
I actually found out that I am pregnant about 2 weeks before the quarantine. Since then I’ve had to brave doctors appointments alone without my lovely husband. I’ve also had to endure the emotions and physical manifestations of quarantine stress while pregnant. I’ve been grieving the fact I feel that I’ve lost so much joy of being pregnant to the stress of the pandemic.