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The Collective Grief of COVID-19

Grappling with any kind of loss involves a grief process, even if the loss isn’t tangible.

We are all dealing with non-tangible losses during this COVID-19 pandemic such as:

  • Physical connections
  • “Old normal” or ”remember when” routines
  • Our safety and certainty about the future
  • Dread that there are more losses to come (anticipatory grief – dreading something bad will happen, but being unable to see it).
  • Grief is messy! We need to embrace the mess and honor the struggle we’re going through.

You might be experiencing stages of grief dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Denial – I can’t believe this is still going on
  • Anger – I’m so mad that… (examples: my kids can’t go to school, I can’t see my loved ones/friends in person, why aren’t others doing what they should be doing)
  • Bargaining – If/then… (example: if I wear a mask, then I can see my friends)
  • Depression – The world as we knew it at the beginning of 2020 is gone (and who knows what is yet to come)
  • Acceptance – COVID-19 is still here and not going away soon. What can I do to live productively in it?
  • Find/make meaning out of the losses – work in progress
  • Grief brings baggage from previous losses.

Strive to find balance in what you’re thinking about.

Try to stay in the “now” and let go of what you can’t control.

Practice self-compassion. Name your feelings (emotions need motion).

Self-care tips:

  • Breathe – Inhale smelling your favorite flower. Exhale like you’re blowing out birthday cake candles
  • Drink water
  • Get up and move (stretch, play…)
  • Look for small wins, 3 good things every day
  • Limit your intake of news

Living on in others through the gifts of life

My son, William Berlin, was born on September 15, 1995. He loved spending time with his family and friends. I have so many memories of him making people laugh. Once, I told him to audition for the character position at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. I did not know he was actually auditioning for a dance position. When I heard the music, I thought to myself, “He has to dance! I think I made a mistake.” I just cracked up laughing.

He came out from the audition, all sweaty, and said “Mom, what did you do to me?” William didn’t get that position, but he did get the character that stands to take pictures with the kids. After his audition, we both went to the car and laughed about the whole thing.

My son always wanted to give. He was little when he asked me what an organ donor was. When I told him, he said that he would be an organ donor when he grew up. When I started having trouble with my liver, William said he would donate half of his for me. I had to tell him he couldn’t donate just yet.

William always wanted to donate blood, too. When he was 15, he was so disappointed that he could not donate blood yet. When he turned 16 and got his driver’s license, he signed up to donate his organs. At 17, he begged me to donate blood and brought home a permission slip. Ever since that day, he would donate his blood any chance he could get.  

On November 16, 2017 he was hit by a truck. He fought to stay alive for 2 weeks. He passed away at the age of 22 and was able to help other people by donating his organs. He was able to donate his kidneys, corneas, and tissue.

It has been two and a half years since my son passed away, and I am still trying to process his death. Our experience with William’s donation process was surreal. Everything happened so fast. They kept him alive until all the paperwork and staff were ready for him.  During that process, our family was able to say our last goodbyes. 

We are proud, honored, and sad that he was able to do what he always wanted to do.

For more information about blood and tissue donation, please click here.