By Taylor Gabbey, HRI Graduate Assistant
All of us experience grief at some point or another. When many people think of mourning, they usually think of the loss of a loved one through death, whether that’s a friend, family member, or beloved pet. However, grief and mourning are not limited to the people we lose.
Right now, people across the world are experiencing grief. Students who have worked hard all year have had to leave classes and friendships behind; many adults are no longer leaving home to work, and some are unable to work at all; and many of the things we enjoy–going to the movies, taking vacations, just connecting with friends over dinner–are no longer possible. These are all things that make up pieces of our identity, and it is okay to grieve the loss of that normalcy.
What does grief look like in these situations? You may have heard of the Kuebler-Ross stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Despair, and Acceptance. All of these are common responses to loss. Right now, some people may feel angry that projects or events they worked hard to put together are no longer going to happen, or angry that places they enjoy are temporarily closing. Others may feel depressed or fearful that things will be like this forever. Still others may engage in denial or bargaining, and continue to violate social distancing policies. (While a normal reaction, these last two responses can be dangerous and put others more at risk.) Each person grieves differently, and some might experience several of these feelings at once. What is important is to recognize that these are normal, healthy responses to a very troubling time. If you or someone you know is feeling upset, that is okay. Hold space to process your grief by practicing self-care, talking on the phone with a friend, or just giving yourself permission to cry about your losses. The unique thing about the quarantine is that we are all experiencing it at once, so let’s give each other grace as we go through this grief together.