MERI Center Blog

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Invisible Losses:
Secondary Trauma, Survivor Guilt and Moving Through the COVID-19 Crisis

Michael W. Rabow, MD & David Bullard, PhD
San Francisco, CA

Updated: April 29, 2020 3:45 pm

The world is suffering deep losses in the COVID-19 pandemic.   Already, millions are infected,  hundreds of thousands killed, a global economic disaster and all the suffering that accompanies it.  And even if you yourself are not infected with this virus, even if you haven’t lost your business or your job, even if no one in your family is sick or has died, we all are affected.

For almost everyone, there is anxiety, fear, and, at least some of the time, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.  In charts and tables, in town halls and zoom meetings, in videos and photographs, our news and social media document real losses in painful and visible detail.  And, for almost everyone, there also are invisible losses. 

This is the “Both/And” virus.  It is true both that many have already died, and that the majority will not.  It is true both that some have lost everything, and that some will only know the greatest suffering second-hand.  Many of us are being hurt by what is happening in our world, and also by what has not happened.  Indeed, there is pain and loss even in what we escape.

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