A Small Word for a Big Experience

A Small Word for a Big Experience

The month of April was difficult for me, both as a human living in the age of a global pandemic, and as a bereaved daughter. April 13, 2020 marked what would have been my mother’s 70th birthday. We lost her suddenly just over four years ago. This was the first year that I did not feel moved to memorialize her on social media as a reminder to the world that she had once graced us with her larger-than-life presence, only to slip away from us quietly in the night.

In the past, this has bolstered me to see others remember her vibrant humor or comment on her beauty. But this year it felt somehow wrong…almost greedy, or at least in poor taste to do so. I’ve been asking myself why I felt this way and I keep coming back to an article recently published by the Harvard Business Review and written by Scott Berinato titled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief,” which highlights the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler in relationship to our collective emotional response to COVID-19. .

This writing feels true to what I have been seeing among my clients over the past few weeks…a heavy weight on hearts and minds that steals a sense of peace and makes the future feel like an amorphous, frightening space. The article also provides an understanding as to why I was hesitant to remind my friends and family of my own earlier loss. I didn’t want to do anything to make the world a sadder or more scary space.

Now we are all grieving at the same time, but in different ways, and for different reasons: high school seniors disallowed their graduation ceremony; mothers-to-be making difficult choices as to who will be bedside as they labor; those who have lost jobs; and others like me who find themselves wading through memories of those who left us before this all came to be, and wondering again what the world will look like on the other side of this transformative experience. I believe that in identifying our feelings we can begin to understand them and better advocate for our own needs and the needs of our community.

Grief seems a small word for such a large experience, but it’s the truest thing I know to describe what we are going through. I am grateful for the work of Kübler-Ross and the knowledge that she provided us, and I hope that we can all give ourselves permission to grieve as we adapt to this challenging new world. It’s what our mothers would want, after all.

Jenny Clark, LMSW, is an Associate Therapist at CHRIS Counseling – DeKalb. For an appointment, call 404-636-1457 or contact intakeccdekalb@CHRIS180.org


Jenny Clark, LMSW
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