For every time, you miss the warmth of the people you love, not being able to see or hug them, you are grieving. For every time, you miss visiting your friends, chatting with your colleagues at the pantry, meeting deadlines as a team, going to dinners with family, visiting a park, coffee shop, dancing at a club, or going to a music festival, for every time, you are not able to step out without the fear of putting yourself or your loved ones at risk, you are grieving.
This heavy feeling in your chest could be grief! Let us understand this better.
The minute you hear the word grief, you may possibly wonder- oh, I do not have anything to grieve about and that is absolutely valid to think, it is okay to not know that the feeling you have been feeling is grief.
We as a society do not understand grief, the moment we hear the word we want to find an escape, we want to distract or simply wish to not hear about it at all, we as a society are grief-phobic and therefore we often associate or understand grief only in the context of death- of a person. However, that is a narrow understanding of grief amidst a grief-stricken time. If we do not understand grief now, we may not know how to be there for each other, we may not know how to support each other or show up for ourselves and others.
We experience grief when what we love is lost and when what we love, leaves. This is not confined to a person but also a place, a role, a relationship, a pet, a lifestyle or simply becoming a newer version of you. The emotional response we have to loss of any kind is grief.
For now, as a therapist, I would like to give you a broader perspective on grief we are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.
With the outbreak of the pandemic our lives turned upside down, we left behind the lives we lived and in no time, we set our foot into a changed world, we began to grieve collectively and this experience is called collective grief.
The new world and new ways of living has led to several changes on a personal, social and economic level and the psychological impact of these changes is still hard to measure but one feeling is universal and that is grief.
As a collective, we are not only going through the loss of normalcy but also going through the loss of loved ones to the virus, loss of freedom to move freely, loss of a social life, loss of financial security, loss of safety, loss of physical and emotional connection, loss of hope and meaning in life. The world is not the same anymore. We have lost way too much to the virus and the systemic collapses. Acknowledging grief is uncomfortable and painful but we are all grieving.
The answer is, grief is a subjective experience, it looks different for everybody and it is not linear.
For every time you sigh at the thought of how unfair and excruciating it has been to see people lose their loved ones or to be the person that has lost a loved one to the virus, you are grieving. For every time you felt angry or sad at how people did not deserve to be a mere statistic in death records and that they deserved to be honored or have a more dignified death, you are grieving.
For every time you wonder what if something happens to me or my loved ones? For every time you feel trapped in a place not being able to travel and visit your favorite place, you are grieving.
For every time you could no longer follow the rituals of marriage ceremonies or festivals or funerals, you are grieving.
For every time, you are unable to plan for the future or know what your life is going to look like in the coming years– you are grieving and today, I invite you to make space for that grief, it may be soft or it may be coming to you in waves, whatever form it may be in- I invite you to hold space for it without trying to fight it because this grief is simply a reminder of a life you lived and a life you loved.
Written by- Afifa Kauser
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