Happy New Year! I wanted to be one of the first to congratulate you on making it to 2021. I know we’re all hoping 2021 brings better things for us than 2020 did.
Even as we turn over a new leaf with the new year, though, many of us are still struggling with the things, or people, that 2020 has taken away.
I know from speaking with my patients and also from interacting with many of you that a lot of people are struggling right now with grief. Whenever I solicit feedback from those who follow me via my email newsletter or on social media, I get numerous replies about how people are struggling with loss right now during the pandemic — both the loss of people due to COVID, and the loss of a way of life.
Last week, on Christmas Day, my birth mother’s mother (my birth grandmother) died of COVID. She was in her 90s and on hospice, and her passing was peaceful, but that doesn’t remove the difficulty for those surviving her of how to deal with the loss.
On Wednesday I attended her memorial service over Zoom. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the Officiant said something so touching I had to immediately write it down, lest I forget:
Grief is the price we pay for loving one another.
Without love, there is no grief and there is no mourning. Loss is painful because we cared so deeply about the person (or circumstance) we lost.
In that sense, grief can be a price we pay—not gladly, but at least with an open heart—for the blessing of having experienced the kind of love that hurts to be taken away.
During my recent Life Teachings Live Q&A I spent some time talking about grief. Think of grief as a process, rather than something that’s guaranteed to pass in a discrete amount of time. For you, it may happen relatively quickly, or it may take a long time. It will not be linear. Some days you will start to feel hope again, only to fall back into despair.
But, as no good thing lasts forever, no bad thing lasts forever, either. And while loss can take away someone you love, it can never take away your memories. Honor the person you lost, and mourn them, but then also ask yourself, what would this person whom you loved so much wish for you, now?