After my mom died in 2006, I attended a grief support group at an area hospice. There were many takeaways in that time of loss. One that stays with me in this time of great upheaval is that our losses can have an echo. The feelings of older losses come back and vibrate through the losses of the present.
This season of COVID-19 has brought with it echoes of loss embedded in fresh losses. I have been reminded of my own losses. Across social media threads I have noticed that others are writing about their own feelings of grief. Writing about how this time feels so grief filled. And of how they miss loved ones who have died in the past. I’ve observed memory photos online of people who died years ago. I even posted a picture of my own father on his birthday – he would have been 83. Even those who haven’t had a death loss due to COVID are deeply moved by the losses of others.
Like an echo returning across a valley, the feelings of grief can come back in surprising waves. Sometimes they arrive with such strength that it can feel as if we are knocked off our feet. How can I feel this intensely about a loss that is many years old? Even very recent losses can be exaggerated by the enormity of the very large-scale grief experience we are sharing on a global scale.
We are in a pandemic of grief
It is not surprising to me that feelings about the present-day events mingle with emotions connected to our past experiences. Rather than shying away from grief-filled emotions, echoes of our past losses in this time might be an opportunity. They invite us into a time of observation and reflection. The echoes are an invitation to sit with feelings of the past, with memories of our loved ones who have died and to reflect on where we are now. It can be a gentle time of consideration – not to judge oneself but to hold onto losses and learnings as something precious. I think feelings can invite us into a thoughtful conversation with ourselves.
Some questions you might ask yourself include:
- What have I learned since my loved one died?
- What helped me most during my time of mourning?
- Who were my supporters and how can I be a support to others?
- What did my grief teach me then that I can tap into now?
You might notice other questions bubbling up as you give your grief room to breathe. In giving it room to breathe you may also discover that you are more resilient than you give yourself credit for. You might uncover new memories that help you see glimpses of hope. You might find ways in which you can be restored and encouraged even in these challenging times.