A realization is growing that the global pandemic is not going away anytime soon. A realization that, like any emergency, this pandemic has its casualties. In the wake of such losses, it is important we remember to grieve. Because in some ways, we’ve forgotten.

Western culture has lost grieving rituals over time. Media and authorities tend not to speak about loss in a straightforward manner. After all, death does not sell ads.

These realities have left us ill-equipped to deal with tragedy and loss when it does arrive.

Denial is a feature of grieving that everyone must pass through. Not just as individuals, but sometimes as families, communities, even nations. As a society, perhaps we have languished in collective denial about the reality of COVID – how it changes lives and, yes, even takes lives.

With the pandemic well into year two though, perhaps that tendency towards denial has turned a corner.

Certainly, that seemed true last week with the sad passing of 13-year-old Brampton girl. Suddenly, the sober side of COVD-19 had a face, a Toronto face, a young face. Moral and financial support for her family began to pour in. And yet, the family has experienced bereavement, a process that will continue even after the flood of well-wishing slows down.

“If these were normal times, people could get together, hold vigils, go to the funeral – the isolation makes this so much worse.”

Dawn Griffith, owner of The Family Enhancement Centre in Brampton, told the Toronto Star, “The pandemic may be the worst time to lose someone. It stripped mourners of nearly all the normal coping strategies used to process loss… If these were normal times, people could get together, hold vigils, go to the funeral – the isolation makes this so much worse.”

Please, if you feel that isolation, reach out to someone you know, reach out to your social support network, and members of your spiritual/faith tradition. Even reach out for professional bereavement counselling if that is what you need. When everyone around you shares the same grief, sometimes it makes sense to reach outside your own circle.

Give yourself permission to feel the crazy range of emotions and not to “feel okay”. What you experienced is real, adds Dawn Griffith. Allow yourself to experience your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Be gentle with yourself as intense sadness, anger, regret and even guilt can surface. Give yourself extra time and space, not only to grieve but to accomplish everyday tasks that just seem harder right now.

We at TFEC extend our condolences to all who have lost loved ones in this pandemic.