MERI Center Blog

*This piece is also being published by the UCSF Department of Psychiatry.

Words are not enough, they never are, but particularly in this pandemic of loss.  Still, here are a few thoughts to help us find a way through the terrible pain of grief in the time of COVID-19.

Grief is the pain of loss

Our losses are multiple, nearly overwhelming, and being experienced right now by everyone on this planet.  We all know the ache of being at odds with our own lives.  We all know vulnerability.  We all know loss.  The current pandemic is bringing us loss—and grief, the human response to loss--at scale.  Many losses are of people-- our family, our lovers, our  friends, our neighbors, people across the world we have never known.  But our losses are of other important things too-- school, work, connection, the prom, sports, certainty, predictability, blissful ignorance, weddings, funerals, normalcy.  Some losses are life delayed (for who knows how long), some are life canceled and gone forever.  Each person’s grief is personal, and true, and incomparable to another’s.  There is no ranking of loss, just what it means to each of us to go without, to miss, to be separated, to be disappointed, to feel alone and bereft.

Grief has to be, because we love

Grief is normal.  We grieve the loss of what we care about.  If you are hoping to avoid grief, then you’d have to avoid love.  Noting this connection can help soften the sting of these hard feelings.  In this way, grief is something of value and is worth protecting.  Hence, many cultures and societies have long ritualized the mourning period.  Our funerals must now be...

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