There is no question that the fifteen months, since COVID became part of our vocabulary and our lives, have been extraordinarily difficult. In fact, it seems almost unnecessary to say that. Across the country and around the globe, we have all been impacted by this pandemic in ways too numerous to count. Many of us, if not all of us, have had to struggle with anxiety, uncertainty, isolation and, far too often, grief.
Grief has been our companion for these many months. We have grieved, in our world of older adult services, for the many elders who are no longer with us, those whose lives were claimed by this virus. We have grieved for the loss of friends and family members and colleagues. We have grieved for the life that we thought we knew, the reality that was so familiar, that is forever changed.
When we face grief on any level, the process is as individual as we are. On a personal level, grieving is a reflection of our personalities, our emotional character as well as the nature of the loss. Each loss is unique, each response equally unique.
There are those of us who move past grief but still hold it deep within. There are others who cannot move past it and remain in that pool of tears in a way that colors their lives. Still, others can put it aside, grieving at the moment and then, seemingly, letting it go. None of those responses are wrong — they are just who we are and how we process our emotions.
For me, personal loss has always felt like a tear in the tapestry of my life. Losing my parents, although too young, felt-like fabric that was wearing and separated—painful but not ultimately shocking. Losing my brother, too young and too suddenly, has always made me feel as if someone violently tore a hole in my life, ends of fabric wrenched apart by unseen hands. We mend those tears, as best we can, we patch them and we weave the pieces together again into some semblance of a whole. But the hole is still there and the repair is one that is tenuous, that memory and moments can open once again.
There is no timeline for grief. There is no right way or wrong way for us to live through and work through our losses. Being unable to cope may require, at some point, that we get help to recover and move forward with our lives. But thinking that we need “to get over it” because someone else thinks that we should is just not the case. We are entitled to feel our pain, to mourn our losses and to find our own path to healing and to the rest of our lives.