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Complicated Grief During A Pandemic

Loss takes many forms and sometimes we aren’t even aware of what we may be mourning.

While many Americans have been eager to return to typical pre-pandemic activities this summer, others may find it difficult to reconcile this with the waves of grief and loss that unfolded over the past 16 months. Millions died in the past year and the death toll from COVID has not stopped. In addition, people who were already grieving or missing loved ones have found their grief amplified during the pandemic, or were unable to properly mourn their dead due to COVID-related social distancing restrictions. Death is difficult enough to process in typical times, and the months of the pandemic have been far from typical. Given that, many people are struggling to come to terms with these losses and how to move forward.

So what can we do? First and most importantly, acknowledge the grief. Know that you are not alone in mourning and that all feelings are valid, even if they are painful or bring discomfort. Grief isn’t linear, which means that you might have surges of loss that you had assumed were over, or experience waves of missing your loved one that ebb and flow unpredictably. You might feel angry that others don’t seem to understand your loss, or try to minimize your own emotions by telling yourself that “it’s not a big deal” or “I should be over it by now.” Remember, there is no timeline that you need to follow or any “right” way to grieve. Making space for the fact that the pandemic has upended many people’s lives, often in permanent ways, is necessary and vital.

Below are some resources to consider if you or someone you know is dealing with grief:


Jen Brown, LICSW is a licensed independent clinical social worker who has been in clinical practice since 2014. She received her MSW and Certificate in Urban Leadership in clinical social work from Simmons University School of Social Work. She has worked in outpatient mental health and integrative settings in community health centers, college mental health, and in affordable housing. Jen has experience working with depression and other mood disorders, anxiety, trauma/PTSD, substance use and addiction, ADHD, identity shifts/adjustment issues, chronic illness, body image concerns, and relationship issues.

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