Embracing Grief: Refusing to Be Blamed for Acknowledging the Impact of COVID-19

Nicole Lewis-Keeber
3 min readAug 21, 2023

In a world that constantly tries to convince me that I am broken, I find solace in reminding myself that my response to the maddening experience of COVID-19 is not a flaw. The lack of recognition and space for collective grief has left me grappling with the weight of an unacknowledged catastrophe. It’s time we shed light on the magnitude of this event, share compelling statistics about COVID-19 in the USA, and explore the necessary steps to confront and heal from its profound impact.

The Unseen Toll on Lives Lost:

We cannot turn a blind eye to the devastating loss of life caused by COVID-19. As of May 2023, a staggering 1,161,164 Americans have lost their lives to this relentless virus. Behind each statistic lies a network of grieving individuals, with an average of nine people left behind to mourn the passing of a loved one. This equates to a heart-wrenching 9.9 million people in America who have experienced the pain of losing someone to COVID-19. These numbers demand our attention and empathy.

The Forgotten Grief of Families and Children:

COVID-19’s impact extends far beyond the number of lives lost. Families have been shattered as parents, siblings, and relatives have been taken by the virus. Approximately 245,000 children in America have been left to navigate the world without at least one parent due to COVID-19. The absence of proper goodbyes, communal support, and essential bereavement rituals has further exacerbated the emotional trauma inflicted upon these families. The fractures caused by COVID-19’s politicization and conspiracies have added to their pain, leaving them in desperate need of healing.

The Silent Heroes: Our Unacknowledged Warriors:

While the world was locked in battle with an invisible enemy, our healthcare workers, first responders, therapists, social workers, and essential workers emerged as the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. They selflessly put their lives on the line, enduring physical and emotional hardships akin to those faced in war zones. Yet, their sacrifices have largely gone unnoticed and unacknowledged. These brave individuals require our recognition and support to heal from the wounds inflicted by this silent war.

Silenced Grief Breeds Selfishness:

The absence of a collective response to the grief and trauma caused by COVID-19 has fostered a distressing atmosphere of insularity, selfishness, and indoctrination. When no one acknowledges our pain, we are tempted to turn inward and prioritize our individual needs over the collective good. The lack of leadership in facilitating the processing of grief has perpetuated this troubling trend. We must confront this reality and strive to create a society that values compassion, empathy, and communal healing.

Finding Healing in Honesty:

How do we address this disabling event and cope with the profound loss of life caused by COVID-19? It starts with acknowledging the gravity of the situation and rejecting the notion that we are the problem for wanting to remember, grieve, and take this event seriously. We cannot allow ourselves to be gaslit into believing that everything will return to “normal” while the world remains engulfed in flames.

To begin the healing process, we must demand proper recognition of the grief and trauma experienced by individuals, families, and communities. Accessible mental health support should be made available to those who have lost loved ones, as well as to the healthcare workers and first responders who have witnessed the devastation caused by the virus. Public awareness campaigns centered around empathy, compassion, and unity can help foster a sense of collective healing.

Conclusion:

As we navigate the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to acknowledge the immense impact it has had on our lives. We must reject any attempts to make us feel responsible for wanting to mourn and process our collective grief. By embracing the truth and allowing ourselves to grieve, we can begin the journey toward healing and rebuilding. Let us stand together, demand recognition for our pain, and create a future that prioritizes the well-being of all. Only then can we truly move forward as a united, compassionate, and resilient society.

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Nicole Lewis-Keeber

Nicole Lewis-Keeber MSW LCSW is a business therapist and speaker helping entrepreneurs to create & nurture healthy relationships with their business.