How to Grieve in 2021: a process of re-learning

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Sarah and I having a bonfire on St. Joseph Island.

What’s a worse feeling than having to attend a funeral?  Not being able to attend a funeral.

Losing a loved one through the pandemic brings a weird new reality of grieving that many have had the misfortune of experiencing.

Virtual gatherings have replaced the wake. Friends cannot hug each other to offer comfort.

We are all grieving, yet you couldn’t tell from behind our masks.

We gather virtually and put on our “zoom faces” that we have all become accustomed to in the pandemic reality. We take turns turning our mic’s on then off, to share and then listen to our fellow grievers.  Sharing stories of our lost friend, watching our friends laugh and cry along with their muted mic’s.

Such a big part of how we have been taught to grieve was being in a space together and being able to express the complex emotions that come with losing a loved one.  People gathered in a common space to find solace in the shared experience of grieving.

I had not seen my friend Sarah in over a year due to COVID when she passed away in her sleep this past December.

She was a frontline worker at her local hospital in New York state. She was stressed every day to go to work as they were overwhelmed with new COVID cases daily.

Sarah had an existing heart condition that has never affected her everyday life.  Her COVID test came back negative when her autopsy was done.  Her partner tested positive two days after her passing.

Our mutual friend Krista organized a zoom gathering for all of Sarah’s friends to share their memories of her and cry together.

I was planning on travelling to see them as soon as the borders opened and it was safe to do so.  I am still processing the fact that the last time I saw her was dropping her off at the Sault Airport after her and Krista had visited in the summer of 2019.

We are all re-learning how to process loss and grieve in the new pandemic reality.  It is so important to stay connected with those who are going through the same thing.

Sending virtual hugs to all those who lost someone this past year.  You are not alone.

If you need to talk to someone about grief or loss, please contact the local mental helpline: 1-866-531-2600