When the Grief is Vast and Overwhelming

Grief as a visual

I stopped writing posts about quarantining and staying home back in April when I thought this period would slow down by the fall. What a fool I was. We already knew then that COVID was killing people en masse across the world and that we’d be the next ones affected. What I hadn’t fully anticipated then was how much tragedy would be compounded up until this point. Of course, I’ve been privileged to not see accumulated disasters up close even before coronavirus. I haven’t experienced war, police violence, incarceration, natural disasters, or poverty. And even though I’ve been working every day since the start of the pandemic, I’m lucky enough that my loved ones and I have remained uninfected (knock on wood). However, I still recognize that my mental illnesses haven’t taken a backseat from all of this compounded grief we’re seeing every single day. The grief is potent and devastating and yet it feels like we can’t acknowledge such massive pain because it’s constantly expanding. And yet it’s not only the thousands of people dying from COVID every day that’s traumatizing us all, it’s the widespread police violence (also known just as policing) and murders, white supremacists killing BIPOC, substantial evictions, record unemployment, the loss or lack of healthcare, incarcerated people suffering and dying in cells, climate change worsening, and politicians either actively trying to kill us or willfully ignoring our pain and the life-threatening circumstances at hand. Those are the heavy hitters of our current time and even the smaller losses—quarantining alone, missing loved ones, postponed trips or moves, cancelled graduations and sports seasons and performances, realizing that all future plans are now uncertain and possibly over—are worth mourning over. And the worst part of all of this devastation is that we can’t gather and help each other feel our grief and the trauma that will eventually follow. Having loved ones nearby and connecting with others over social media is extremely important and beneficial, but seeing so much distress on a regular basis is—and I despise this word, but it feels like the only one that fits—unprecedented and unhealthy. We were not meant to consume so much pain all at once. It’s extremely upsetting that we’re supposed to just read about 1,000 people dying per day in America (I know, I would rather talk through an international lens) and 846,757 dead in the world since the beginning of the pandemic and just go about our lives like that’s not an unspeakable tragedy. It’s also not normal to watch cops beat the living shit out of and shoot Black people and then do the same to others protesting police violence all the while knowing that nothing will happen to the cops committing such violence. I don’t mean for this to be a triggering stream of consciousness, but I’m—as well as, I’m sure, all of you are—distraught by all of this collective grief and suffering and I’m not sure how to properly respond or protect myself and the people I love from spiraling. Therapy is not enough for emotional and physical wounds of this level. Having to accept these insurmountable losses and the fact that nothing is certain anymore is going to cause a lot of trauma, if it hasn’t already, for a lot of us soon and I guess all we can do to get through such a horrific time is hold each other close and be thankful if we survive each day.