The COVID-19 pandemic is having and has had an unprecedented impact on the world. Older adults and those with underlying medical issues are at a higher risk of developing complications, some which can lead to death. According to the AARP Magazine, 95 percent of Americans who died of Covid-19 were over the age of fifty. Further, one in four deaths in the United States has left a child without a caregiver, whether it was a parent or grandparent.
Losing a loved one is difficult enough, but the pandemic has brought with it additional complications, namely, mandated social distancing and restricted public gatherings. In many ways, dealing with the death of a loved one is a twofold trauma — the fear of contracting COVID-19 coupled with the heartbreak of the loss. But instead of memorials and funerals, where loved ones offer love and support with good old-fashioned hugs, during the previous two years the bereaved have found new ways to grieve using phones and laptops. Things are loosening up, but it has been difficult for many. In his book On Grief and Grieving, author David Kessler writes, “The rituals around death are so important for healthy grief . . . grief is a time of connection. We’ve always been able to be with the bodies to gather for a funeral. All that is gone.”
In 1964, when I was ten years old, my grandmother, who lived with my family, died. I was sent to my aunt and uncle’s home instead of attending the funeral. My parents were ill-equipped to help me grieve, so I was told my grandmother had gone to sleep. In order to deal with my feelings, they bought me a journal and told me to write in it. There was no closure for me until, as an adult, I wrote the book Regina’s Closet about my grandmother’s life and our relationship. It was also my way of giving back to help others who’d lost grandparents.
Thankfully, parents today are much more transparent with their children. International happiness teacher and speaker Stella Grizont lost two grandparents to COVID-19 within a week of one another. She lost her father at the age of six and believes we definitely feel the spirits of our deceased loved ones. She shares this belief with her five-year-old daughter by assuring her that her grandparents are no longer physically alive, but their spirits always will be. This has brought comfort to her daughter, who now…