Grief In The Time of COVID-19

This article was written by Angelica V.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop we all find ourselves deeply impacted by the outbreak on various personal levels: separation from loved ones, highly anticipated plans put on indefinite hold, and difficulty adjusting to a new shared reality are just a few obstacles people are facing in their daily lives. Every single individual in one way or another has been directly impacted by this public health crisis, uniting us in a shared grief. How do we come to terms with such a challenging human experience— and can we truly find some semblance of peace and normality in such tumultuous times?

Many have responded to the crisis by redefining modes of communication and finding new ways to connect with one another. Online video chat platforms such as Zoom or Skype offer people the opportunity to connect with loved ones, attend classes, or conduct work from a distance. These video chat platforms enable people to maintain correspondence and achieve a certain level of proximity to those they are not able to see face to face. 

For some, however, such channels fall short of sufficing for actual contact. The NY Times asked students to comment on how COVID-19 has impacted their lives, and one student remarked “Spending almost all day in front of a screen, rather it be via Zoom or Google Docs, makes the day long and blur together with the day before. During this difficult time, Zoom calls or Facetime is what we have all been doing to stay connected, but seeing someone through a screen just isn’t the same.” With the loss of our former social contact, a new appreciation for what was lost emerges; “The coronavirus has altered our daily lives, but with that comes a new appreciation for all aspects of life.”

Gratitude for things formerly commonplace extends into many other aspects of people’s lives. Individuals find themselves struggling with the loss of work, postponed weddings, canceled church gatherings, and missed birthdays. Millions of individuals have filed for unemployment and couples forced to reschedule their weddings are scrambling to delay their plans in the face of uncertainty. The inability to assemble for church gatherings is a particularly contested topic, as many Americans view this a violation of their constitutional rights to freely exercise their religion. In one way or another, everyone has found themself a victim of some form of distressing circumstance as a result of COVID-19. Events and activities that were once customary and typical have taken on new, substantial meaning, and it is unlikely that these privileges will ever be viewed in the same light again.

Although the current situation may not be ideal, a collective effort is being made to “make the best of a bad situation”, so to speak. Musical artists are offering free livestreams of concerts to help bring some comfort and joy to the lives of those unable to leave their homes during this pandemic. Such offerings aid in dispelling some of the overwhelming feelings of isolation many of us are facing during these difficult times, and offer much needed relief from all the turmoil and stress surrounding COVID-19. By distracting ourselves from the drama of it all and taking the time to relax during such a highly charged moment in history, the public health crisis doesn’t have to be so trying.

In the end, this may be the best approach to dealing with this pandemic; if we are to remain resilient in the face of it all, we must learn to take a step back, breathe deeply, and reclaim moments in our lives for ourselves.

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