An aerial picture of a shoreline with trees lining it and the shadow of trees in the water

I lost my dad to brain cancer a little before Christmas. My family and I had been grieving the idea of it for a while, an unfortunate side effect of losing someone you love slowly.

Then, I found myself on the reality-side of grief come the new year. It was a different sweeping of emotions, dealing more so with this new hole in my heart and day-to-day life. This was mirrored by a deep, cavernous missing of his physical presence, effervescent optimism, big bear hugs and all of the things that are hard to find time to think about while caretaking.

Post-loss and pre-pandemic, I found returning to normal life fairly exhausting (and certainly not normal). It was as if everyone had given their final hugs and condolences and moved on with their lives. While they all seemed fine, I wanted to stand on a chair and yell, “Nothing about this is fine.”

I found it draining to do life’s minimum requirements. My puffy eyelids and tears didn’t fit well into my 9-to-5. I overflowed with emotion on weekends. And repeat. Three months later, we all find ourselves in a global crisis we didn’t see coming. Just like that, the whole world started grieving.

Before my eyes, people started open dialogues about grief on a global and individual scale. Experts came to coach us through it. They didn’t provide neat and tidy quotes, but raw verbiage and tangible coping skills to help bridge us into our current reality, loss of epic proportion.

On Brene Brown’s podcast, “Unlocking Us,” David Kessler,  a grief expert recently said, “We’re collectively grieving the loss of the world we all once knew.”

“We’re collectively grieving the loss of the world we all once knew.”

Whether it’s losing a loved one, our past versions of normalcy and routine or simply the world we once knew, we’re all grieving. While I hate the reason it was brought on, I simultaneously can’t help but feel deeply understood and communally nurtured in the process.

My fellow grievers, it’s as if overnight, the world pulled up a chair to a grief group, and we get to navigate it all together. This topic that once felt socially awkward to bring up (yet was always on my mind) is now an essential ingredient in our healing process.

When I grieve, I find that glimpses of healing and hope come secondarily into view, slowly but surely.

Seeing people experience deep grief and expand their hearts toward others who hurt is healing. Accepting our neighbors in whatever stage of grief they’re in is healing. To grieve alongside fellow grievers is healing. To know full well that to grieve is to be human is healing.

To know full well that to grieve is to be human is healing.

My hope is that little by little, through our deep losses, we can find each other and hold on. I wish that we know, without a doubt, that our communal grief binds us together more than ever before. That our enormous empathy for one another is bursting at the seams.

My hope is that one day, we’ll leave our quarantined walls to gather in remembrance and hold space for one another. We’ll do it first across our screens and then all together when we can safely gather, mourn, grieve and remember alongside each other, hand in hand. Maybe then we can walk (or crawl), at our own pace and in our own way, toward healing together.

What have you lost during this global pandemic? What are some practical ways of processing grief?

Image via Raisa Zwart Photography

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