Grief and COVID-19 – Cohabitating Crises

Grief
  • Comes uninvited.
  • Disrupts routines.
  • Can be devastating.
  • Snatches someone we love from us.
  • Feels isolating and alone.
  • Makes us vulnerable.
COVID-19
  • Comes uninvited.
  • Disrupts routines.
  • Can be devastating.
  • May snatch someone we love from us.
  • Feels isolating and alone.
  • Makes us vulnerable.

This list of possible similarities could go on and on. Many of us know intimately about grief – losing loved ones, jobs, dreams, partners, stability, mental status – and we know about loss. Onto the stage of this already challenging life enters an unknown – COVID-19. COVID comes in many forms – with no symptoms, with life altering symptoms like amputations, blood clots, aneurysms, pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome and much more. People live and people die with COVID-19. In a time when we used to go anywhere anytime, we now huddle in our homes to wait and watch and worry.

Are these questions familiar to you?

  • Do we go on vacation this summer?
  • Is it OK to go out for a burger or a beer?
  • What about church or the Synagogue or the Mosque?
  • Can I take the kids to daycare?
  • What will the university look like in the Fall?
  • Will I be able to keep my job?

Confusion, guilt, anger, bargaining, denial, depression – These all meet us with both COVID-19 and with grief. They are like a tornado hitting. There is no rhyme or reason to the timing of these feelings. They barge into our lives like a tornado – just when we thought we had everything under control.

Both grief and COVID-19 hurt. Don’t face these difficulties alone. Support groups are available. Counselors are available. Your family and friends want to love and support you in these difficult days.

When my mother was dying and for many weeks after her death, one of the healing gifts I received was a hot meal every Thursday night from the mechanic who worked on her car. He was a terrific cook. He was quiet. Never stopped over for long. He just stopped by to say, “I care.” Writing this five years later, my eyes still well with tears of gratitude for those who show wonderful acts of kindness during times of grief.

Renee Ahern,  PhD, MS, MDiv, LPCC-S
 [email protected]