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Grief During a Pandemic

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

I had been secretly been looking at old pictures, journals, cards, videos, and combing through Scott's phone nearly every night after the kids went to bed. It was a habit I was trying to break, not because I don't want to remember, but because I did it as punishment, as a way to not forget that deep pain. As a way to not forget him. I wanted to know why? I needed to see where I could have changed the outcome. Was there a moment in time that if I had done one thing differently? I was a detective putting pieces together. I knew in my brain that even if I put all the pieces together perfectly, there wouldn't...couldn't be a different outcome. But since the grief journey is so so strange, it didn't matter. I could not stop.

So, when I realized I would be home indefinitely during this pandemic, I worried the habit would become an obsession that spiraled to a place I couldn't get back from.

It was week one that I knew the opposite was going to occur. Something shifted in me as I sorted through this new phase of life. I felt oddly comfortable. It was unnecessary to dig through old things to make me cry. The entire world was grieving. There was an overwhelming sense of collective sadness, confusion, and shock. It felt like home.

I wake up most mornings and forget we are in quarantine and life is completely different than it once was. I have to retell the story to myself to remember. This used to happen every single day with Scott. I woke up each morning like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates needing to have the story of his death retold to me because sleep had erased it. This new story I have to retell is not nearly has difficult because the entire world has to tell themselves the same thing. Collective grief comforts me.

This is what I was looking for after Scott died. I needed the world to quite literally stop. Stop their normal lives. Stop and mourn the loss. Sit in it and be quiet. Feel all the things that suck. It might not be the death of a loved one, but even the loss of a vacation, seeing friends, a job, birthday parties, graduation, and a thousand other things, are felt deeply. All of the people around me are finally in a world of hurt, pain, disappointment, and uncertainty with me. I am no longer the outsider.

In the past twenty days, I have found more peace in my grief than ever. I have been able to let go of the life that might have been. Let go of the questions. The obsessive seeking of answers. The endless what ifs. Because now it isn't just life before Scott and after Scott. Now there is life before quarantine and life after quarantine. Just like when one of your pillar people in your life dies, shit is not going to be the same after.

We will all be starting fresh on the other side of this. No one knows what will be different or what will remain the same. We are all grieving loss and with that grief, I can hang up my habit.

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