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The COVID-19 Pandemic: Working through Loss, Grief and Trauma Associated with a "Lost Year"

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Weddings, graduations, birthday milestones, the list goes on and on, the year 2020 left quite a mark on us. Would anyone have fathomed a year that could just slip through our fingers like dust before March 11th, 2020? There were many remarkable lessons in the last year, how a country and community could come together, how silver linings are discovered and how resilient we are. But as with many different traumas that occur in our lives, we have to allow ourselves the space to mourn the losses we endured this year. In light of human loss and suffering, we are always inclined to remark on the endurance and strength that exists, but within that noble goal, we also risk overlooking and possibly diminishing the pain that festers in those wounds. When we allow ourselves to feel the losses that we endured, that is when healing can begin.

Although it is difficult to allow myself this luxury, I felt my loss creep up when dropping my youngest son off at our beloved preschool for the last time. I walked this halls with my first child when I was 27 years old, completely overwhelmed by the ever growing list of my shortcomings as a new mom. It provided a safe space for me where I could trust that people more experienced than I would take care of this little being who I still could not seem to figure out. It is now eleven years later, and I am getting ready to say goodbye to this gem of a school that represents an important period of my life. Except I haven't entered the school in over a year and I likely never will again. I won't get this year to slowly understand that I will never again say goodbye with a kiss at that particular window, or sneak into the kitchen to watch them play unnoticed, or to visit and read a book to the class. While I understand that this little realization of mine is incredibly unimportant when compared to the fact that I have three healthy children at home and I have not suffered any personal loss during this pandemic, I give myself a little shake and I decide to let myself indulge in this sad thought of what did not exist for me this year. There will always be greater loss, bigger sacrifice and more earth shattering sadness out there. I remind myself that there can also be space for my experience, no matter how insignificant or small it may feel to someone else. It is part of learning how to cope with loss to allow yourself to feel and process grief in the small ways so that this is a skill we learn and can utilize in the unfortunate circumstance where we may need this ability. What small losses are you able to identify during this time? How has that impacted you this year? If you could change something about the loss, what could it be? Is there a way to honor that feeling and acknowledge the pain you might be feeling?

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