Pandemic Collective Grief: Cultivating Kindness Amid Uncertainty and Loss

Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

The world is collectively grieving. All of us, over the past year, have lost time and a sense of control in our own lives due to the ongoing global pandemic caused by Covid-19. Some of us have experienced the loss of loved ones and/or the loss of personal health and well-being. Many are struggling with anxiety and depression for the first time. The global community is collectively grieving and many are coping with these challenges in the best way that they can.

Grief presents itself in a variety of ways from anger and denial to bargaining and depression. The world is hurting and the loss of control is leading some to lash out, while others retreat in isolation. These are difficult days for many of us.

The on-going uncertainty relating to recent surges, as well as the mandating of vaccines, are ramping up division and driving some to rage and/or fear. The media is filling our feeds with stories that paint bleak and dire scenarios, while experts warn of the next variant that may be worse than the present one we are dealing with now. Medical providers on the front lines, exhausted from fatigue, are pleading with people to vaccinate while sharing terrifying stories of patients who have succumbed to Covid-19. Many providers are suffering with PTSD from working in settings that have been understaffed and completely overwhelmed.

Certain people remain hesitant and are holding out for what they feel is a safer and more effective vaccine, Novavax, while some at the end of the other spectrum are flat out denying the seriousness of the pandemic. Billions have already been fully vaccinated. These differences between people, which are often dismissed to political affiliations, are also outcomes of how individuals assess personal risk in their lives and how they cope with the collective trauma and grief resulting from a global pandemic. People are often turning away from one another, and as a result, animosity and arguments ensue and compromise on any level is thwarted.

Things are a bit messy. Honestly, the pandemic has resulted in an epic disaster that has left most feeling vulnerable and even downright angry or scared. There is a lot of distrust and fear. We are all grieving the loss of something we would have never imagined in the past: the loss of connecting to others in a physical space without any thought of it being a hazard to our health. We used to gather unmasked with no real worries about contracting an illness that could potentially cause serious disability or death. We were able to move about freely with little to no concerns about how these interactions with the public might effect one’s health. Those days are potentially over and to be frank, IT SUCKS. Anger and the desperate desire to regain control is a real symptom of grief and often the on-line interactions that become fraught with rage are signs of this deep grief of losing control.

This is hard stuff. And it is affecting us all. No matter someone’s vaccination status or beliefs surrounding Covid-19, we have collectively lost our sense of public safety and the ability to congregate with others without the thought of Covid-19. All of us have lost in some way and no one asked for this global tragedy.

I’ve seen so much tension and anger on-line that I felt I needed to write this, even if its only purpose is to serve to help me process some of the grief and loss of control I am feeling in my own personal life.

I often find myself on-line defending my beliefs or choices only to later erase what I wrote. I acknowledge that I won’t change anyone’s mind. The information truly is out there (in excess, really) and I feel individual choices, during a time of trauma and grief, should be respected.

Here are a few things that I am telling myself that is helping me process the grief of feeling “out of control” as well as the sadness over the losses of loved ones, the loss of freedom, and the loss of personal safety.

  1. I am only responsible for my own choices. And that is enough for me to manage alone.
  2. I cannot control what other people feel, say, or do. I can only control my response.
  3. I acknowledge the limited information and knowledge we have concerning Covid-19 and I accept that the situation is fluid, and evolving.
  4. I don’t have to comment or offer my opinion.
  5. I don’t have to agree with someone in order to empathize and honor how they are processing grief and the uncertainty they might be feeling.
  6. Sometimes the best medicine is time away from social media.
  7. I will choose to do the best I can with my mental and physical health by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and engaging in the leisure pursuits that help me cope and feel better.
  8. I accept this is a hard time. Everyone is coping in their own way.
  9. Everything is temporary. Change will occur. One day we will look back and this pandemic will be behind us.
  10. I will make the choice daily to honor my feelings as well as learn from the challenges this pandemic is bringing to me personally, and the global community, collectively.

Every day is different. I have had some truly “bad days” related to the global pandemic which, to be honest, seems to never end.

But, it will one day. Everything passes and is temporary.

Until it does, just know that whatever you are feeling, it’s normal. We are all grieving.

Extending kindness to others is never an wrong approach as we all could use some kindness thrown our way.

I see you.

I honor your grief.

And I pray there comes a day in the near future where we can meet again, feeling completely safe and free from the constraints and confinement that Covid-19 has caused.

We can do this. Humanity, kindness and love prevails.

Photo by ATC Comm Photo on Pexels.com