If you are feeling overwhelmed by grief, you’re not alone. We acknowledge over 500,000 Covid-19 related deaths in the Unites States alone. For each COVID-19 related death, there are an average of nine people grieving. Thus, at this point in time, we remember those who have died from this isolating disease and hold space for the 4,500,000 friends and family who are grieving. (National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, Feb. 21, 2021)
The collective grief of a society can be staggering. None of us have escaped grief this past year, whether a death, loss of job or home, inability to be with family, loss of a sense of normal, etc. We may feel like we are on grief overload (the experience of too much loss all at once or in a relatively short period of time), Alan Wolfelt, PhD, Center for Loss. In addition to the grief overload we may be struggling with trauma (an inescapable event that confronts a person with actual or threatened death or serious injury[physical, psychological, or spiritual] to the self or another,) Therese Rando, PhD, BCETS, BCBT, The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Loss, Rhode Island.
One way to cope with the reality of grief overload and trauma is to take care of yourself first. Take your grief in doses and take a break from it. Seek your primary care physician or a professional counselor to assess your needs. Look into resources offered through the workplace. Consider mindfulness exercises to help decrease the anxiety, or get outdoors. Ask friends and family what has helped them. Consider a support group or find a good friend to talk with regularly.
One year later, we hold the collective pain over the deaths and losses of the past year as we cling to the hope and promise of the future. Life will be different as we move forward. For now, let us continue to grieve our losses while also celebrating the hope and promise of a future where we can visit loved ones face to face again. Let us look forward to the promise of tomorrow as we continue to adjust to a world without our loved one, and find ways to remember while embarking on the rest of our journey through life.
Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again to the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
(Poem from Inauguration Day, 1993, Maya Angelou)