This year has been marked with loss at so many levels for all of us. For me, death beyond COVID-19 has touched my life. Within six weeks, two people I have known since my early schooldays have died. First, a close family friend, Pat passed from congestive heart failure. Truly supportive during my mom’s own struggle of cancer, she was always a champion for our family as we grew up in Bellville, Ohio. As my mom’s hair stylist, she inspired my daughter to become one as she saw Pat interact with her clients every week in her home salon.
This past week, I lost a childhood friend, Scott, one of my first friends in my neighborhood. He died of cancer after a valiant journey the past several months. In our younger years, Scott lived at the end of an easement where we all gathered to play basketball or kickball. My love of sports started there. As a social worker, he taught students in his profession as well saw clients. Loved and appreciated by all who knew him, he will be missed.
Much sadness has been present in my heart as I see both beloved ones from my mother’s and now my generation passing due to serious illnesses. I feel vulnerable. I sense my own mortality with their deaths.
Impact of over 170,000 deaths due to COVID 19 deaths
Yet, how many all over the US and the world have lost loved ones to COVID-19? (Here are the latest statistics, according to the Centers for Disease Control.) Whether we know of a person who has died yet or not, the sheer magnitude of deaths touches us all. All will be touched once the acuity of this experience passes us. This Labor Day weekend led to the difficult news that my college age niece is positive for COVID-19.
This ongoing process of loss is new for us. With no precedent for the complexity of what is befalling us, we are navigating new territory with our emotions. The new normal keeps shifting, depending where you are in the world. New levels of self-care are needed.
Stepping back is needed for us be aware of our own personal needs and ask hard questions. Is there a need for better boundaries with family members? Or finding a personal space to have time to recalibrate? Resilient changes that support you are needing to be prioritized and implemented.
Grief is present all around us
Each day we are told numbers with an occasional vignette of a person’s life to help mark the moment. Yet, is it enough?
Grief is both a personal and public experience. Bereavement is a process with layers of emotions with their own timing. It differs for each of us. It can be marked by an anniversary of the death or the person’s birthday. There can be other triggers as well. I remember well when I heard about the news of my mother’s cancer diagnosis. It triggered unresolved memories of the loss of my eighteen-year-old sister to scleroderma complications. Honoring the process and creating space for the unfolding to happen is important.
Being in nature and the use of certain essential oils can assist the process such as Frankincense which has been used to support both trauma and the grief associated with it. Finding ways to calm each of our senses is critical for a calmer mind.
A recent article written by essential oil expert, Jodi Cohen, focuses on how to come from a place of grounding to allow for healthy emotional release.
Need for a collective pause for recognition and bereavement of all who died in 2020
Culturally and politically, it has been a year of divisiveness and anger. There have been no attempts as a nation to bring together our collective grief at this time. As John Lewis was being lauded and grieved, I felt I was crying over his loss. Yet, my tears were also for our nation as well. For the many who have died this year.
At a personal level, I have prayed for the many who have passed as well for their families. Every death impacts us, whether we realize or not. As spiritual beings having a human experience, we are connected in the web we know as life on this planet and beyond.
I also pray:
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
In good and prayerful health