COVID-19 · death · Grief · Loss

Dealing with Loss during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Caged Bird Poem

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom”
(excerpt from Caged Bird by Maya Angelou)

During this time of staying at home and concerns regarding the health of ourselves and loved ones, many of us are feeling like ‘caged birds’, longing for the freedom we once enjoyed with little concern or worry. What was once a normal existence for many of us is now lost for what seems like much longer than just over one month. This new ‘normal’ is creating a myriad of strange feelings that can leave us unsettled.

For many, one unfamiliar feeling is of PROFOUND GRIEF. Shelter in Place and the COVID-19 pandemic has disconnected most of us from the people, places and things that sustain us, nurture us, and bring us feelings of love and belonging. We are all impacted by this profound grief, including myself. I have recognized increased levels of anxiety, anger and sadness within myself over the last several weeks. Many people are dealing with loss for the first time in various aspects of their lives.

People are experiencing loss of income; loss of intimacy; loss of access to our favorite watering holes, be it a café or a bar; and the loss of freedom to move about in the world like we have been accustomed to do each day. One loss I have been experiencing is being able to easily access certain types of cheeses found only at Berkeley Bowl.

Those sheltering in place with a significant other, family or housemates have access to intimacy and physical closeness that many of us living alone no longer have access to while staying safe at home. Connecting over the phone, text, email and video conferencing is not the same as the connection we feel when we are in close proximity to those we love and enjoy in our lives.

The anticipatory grief of possibly losing someone to COVID-19 or getting sick ourselves adds a whole new dimension to a life that may have never had to deal with uncertainty that a pandemic like this can cause. “The world has been stripped of its familiarity and its safety. We feel unable to control what comes next” writes Andrew Penn in his article “Making Room for Grief During COVID-19”. There are several links below to articles that can help with the grief we are all feeling during these challenging times.

Please know that we will get through this together. It is important to recognize the urgency of maintaining physical distancing and Shelter in Place; protect yourself and your loved ones by wearing masks when you go out into public spaces, including wearing gloves when you need to go grocery shopping, quarantine and clean your purchases when you bring them home, and wash your hands frequently.

Each of you matter, know that you are essential to the diversity of our existence and you are appreciated and deserving of love. This pandemic will eventually end, and I plan to still be here to support and love those around me, especially during the times when they are unable to love and support themselves.

Let us be gentle and loving to each other and ourselves. Please stay safe and healthy.


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