The Grief Process During Covid

By Donice S. Boatwright

Grief is….by far, the most painful emotion one will ever experience. The way grief works, no two forms of it are the same. You can lose a friend, and process that one way, but lose a parent, and all the preparation that you thought you had of how you’ll deal with it goes completely out the door. Throw COVID into the mix, and well, that’s a beast that none of us were prepared for.

At my age, I’ve lost grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, classmates, etc., and I fully understand that death is the inevitable part of the circle of life, but nothing, nothing could have prepared me for losing my Mother. I remember sitting and talking to her a few days before she was intubated, and ultimately passed away two days after that. I was fully invested, on all platforms, in her getting better, and it never happened.

It’s been one year, and one month, and it still hurts like it just happened yesterday. I still struggle with the reality that she isn’t here, and trying to make sense of the why, even though it’s something that I’ll never know. I still cry – a lot. I’m angry at virtually everything, and I feel alone in all of this, because I am an only child. As much as I continue to struggle, one thing about grief is that you have to feel all of it.

You can’t cheat it, the same way people say that you can’t cheat death because all of the everything that comes with grief will eventually catch up to you. Personally, what has made it most complicated is that all of the things I planned on doing to celebrate her, were thwarted because of COVID.

There were plans we’d discussed in recent days and weeks, and my plan was to do those things in her honor. Not being able to fulfill that has made me realize that I still have not fully processed my grief over losing her. There really isn’t a substitute for me, because doing all of those things; that was how I planned on dealing with my grief. Being unable to safely do any of it, even now, has made the grief process feel and actually be substantially harder.

Another thing about grief, is the guilt you have. I’ve come to the realization that you have to feel all of that too. While I know that I haven’t been able to properly grieve, I’ve had to circle back and remind myself how many couldn’t be with their loved ones in those final moments. To have a proper send off for them with family and friends. I was afforded both of those opportunities. As sad and heartbreaking as that was and still is, I had to release myself of feeling the guilt of being hurt by that because when it all boils down to it, it doesn’t change that I am still grieving. Another’s pain doesn’t change your pain. It doesn’t change that you’re heartbroken. That you don’t know how you’ll ever be whole again. I lost my best friend. My rock. The person who knew me and got me better than anyone on this Earth. No one is replacing her, and that is extremely painful to be reminded of daily.

What I leave with you is that while I can relate to the pain of losing someone, I don’t know exactly how you feel, because you lost your person. Be OK with ignoring people that have no idea of what the pain you are going through feels like yet are compelled by the need to tell you “everything happens for a reason”, “I know how you feel”, or any of the spiritually charged remarks. You can know that people mean well, and still not entertain things you simply don’t believe, or want to hear right now. And it’s OK to not be OK. This is your journey, and your process. Proceed accordingly for you, and you alone. But know that you are not alone.