Current News Today

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

Op-Ed: A Meditation on Grief


March 11 was the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s announcement that COVID-19 had become a pandemic. In my religious custom, the one-year anniversary that follows a death event is an important moment, a milestone in grieving. I was raised to expect that on the yahrzeit — the year’s time — you are both obliged and given the opportunity to spend the day reflecting on the event and re-examining the changes that have come to your own life in the complete cycle of the season that has passed.

We — me and my husband and our two non-adult children — moved from San Francisco to New Zealand in mid-July, four months after the WHO’s official announcement and more than five months after the first documented death by COVID-19 in the U.S. We are grateful to be here, grateful to have our kids enrolled in school, living normal lives. So I didn’t realize how hard the pandemic anniversary had hit me until I found myself in tears, alone in my office, over the friends I was missing back home — not the close friends, who, at least, I’ve been able to Zoom with. I was crying over the hairdresser I’d pass with a wave on the street, the yoga instructor I’d bump into in line for coffee, the bank teller I’d see walking from the bus stop at precisely the same time every working morning. There I was in my office on the other side of the world, crying out the genuine grief I felt for all those ordinary moments that we had stopped having a year before, when the pandemic started and normal life ended.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, MD, taught us that grieving starts with denial, moves on to anger, then to bargaining, and, finally, to acceptance. Have we accepted that COVID-19 and its daily death toll — rising and falling depending on new SARS-CoV-2 strains, the opening and closing of public spaces, and the speed of vaccination — is going to be a part of our lives forever? Where was the bargaining? Did it happen when you cleared a space in the home for your kids’ virtual schooling, assuring them and yourself that it would be temporary? Was it the day you decided to visit the supermarket at the crack of dawn, when there would be the fewest fellow shoppers sharing air in there?

Life goes on but death is final. After a person’s death, the finality of it settles over the lives of those left behind. Grieving can help them reach it in a healthy way. But how do you grieve a multiple fatality event that rolls on, day after day, with no end in sight? Even with the stunning success of vaccination efforts, scientists like me are worried about a vaccine-resistant virus emerging from the more virulent strains that have already evolved to dominance among new cases. People who won’t mask up, socially distance, or vaccinate will continue to host these new strains, and the virus will continue to seek and find new opportunities to infect them. The vaccines haven’t ended the fight. It goes on, and, depending on how successful our race to inoculate proves to be, it could keep going with no hint of finality.

So for the meanwhile, my husband and I are here with our two youngest daughters in New Zealand — lucky to be far away from the worries of COVID-19, but always mindful that, even here, the virus could come back. We are grateful that we could go to a concert the other week with tens of thousands chanting and singing, something that would be a super spreader event anywhere else, yet we are also mindful of how much we miss San Francisco, our home, far away and no longer the same place that we left. Businesses are shuttered, some forever. Friends have moved away. People have died. Even if we were to return and the pandemic miraculously ended, it…



Read More:Op-Ed: A Meditation on Grief

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.