I attended the annual ADEC virtual & international conference on death and dying last week and walked away with so many incredible new ways to think about the dying & grief experience.
One of the interesting terms introduced to us was “Pandemic Grief” by Dr. Robert Neimeyer. He spoke about a study and screening tool he and his colleagues created to locate “dysfunctional grief” amongst people grieving a loved one that died from COVID.
Pandemic Grief takes into account the following compounded losses:
Dr. Neimeyer believes all of these factors and more have culminated into the unique grief experience of Pandemic Grief.
While I have not experienced the loss of a loved one to COVID, the term Pandemic Grief still hit home for me. I think all of us have experienced the losses of this last year in a way we haven’t experienced other griefs.
As we collectively feel hope with opening-up dates coming and vaccine rates rising, we can perhaps see this list more clearly and calmly.
If you feel like you won’t be able to walk back into your favorite places, restaurants, theme parks, stadiums or theaters without a sense of sadness – you’re probably right. It’s not morbid, silly, or something to shake off. This didn’t last for a few weeks or a couple months, we’ve endured ONE YEAR of very intense and difficult emotional, physical, relational and spiritual tension.
I think it can be so helpful to name what we are going through. When we can connect it and name it, we can see our experience for what it is.
So, the next time you feel this tension – or that strange mix of excitement over what’s happening and grief over what didn’t happen – acknowledge the presence of this Pandemic Grief in your life. It’s real and while it may come and go, it’s important that you don’t ignore or diminish it. When we give space for the emotion, good or bad, we give ourselves the gift of living in the present moment and “dealing” right then and there with the reality.
What you can do to share or talk about it:
We have been through something extraordinary and we can’t help but be changed by this. While I’m not quite at peace with how much pandemic grief I’ve got in my life, it helps to call it something and know what it is, and talk about it with people that care about me.
How have you seen Pandemic Grief in your experience of COVID? Please, share below. We would love to hear from you.