First, it is just a feeling in the body. Then there are the sights outside our windows that remind us of where and what we were doing this time last year. Our senses are bombarding us with information, and then it hits us! The thoughts come rushing in. With that realization comes a sense of disbelief that washes over us — the one-year anniversary of the lockdown is upon us.
Call it The Anniversary of the Lockdown or Pandemic Grief, our country is moving into a month of collective grief like the grief experienced by those who have experienced a death. In the circle of grievers, we talk about firsts and lasts: the first birthday without the loved one who died or the memory that comes rushing in of the last movie you watched together.
You may experience many of the same reactions to the Anniversary of the Lockdown as grievers do on the death anniversary or the other important date markers. Collectively, we as a people have experienced not just the death of over 500,000 Americans and more than 2.5 million people worldwide, but many other losses as well. The other losses add up, like not sending children to their schools, not going into a movie theatre, gym, or bar with a friend after working all day, not to mention the loss of family gatherings at holidays, graduations and birthdays, all of which can never be recovered.
Our country is also experiencing a pandemic of lives lost to suicide and overdose deaths. In many cities, homicide deaths have doubled during the year of our confinement due to the coronavirus. How have these lives been honored when funerals and memorials must be postponed due to CDC guidelines limiting social gatherings for our own safety?
Rituals marking important milestones including deaths of loved ones have been practiced since the dawn of civilization. They provide a modicum of comfort during a time that might otherwise feel uncertain or chaotic. While we might not have the freedom for large gatherings, small rituals such as sharing a moment to acknowledge the one-year anniversary of the lockdown or your everyday smaller losses with a friend or relative can provide comfort that is real and ameliorates the pain.
Other ways to respond to pandemic grief on the Anniversary of the Lockdown include:
- Lighting a candle in remembrance of the lives lost
- Donating to a favorite charity in memory of someone in your life
- Donating to a food bank to support families impacted daily by the economic downturn
If you or someone you love are experiencing grief related to the death of someone close or are suffering from depression or anxiety related to the depression, call OUR HOUSE (888)417-1444
Lauren Schneider, LCSW is the Clinical Director of Child and Adolescent Programs at OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center in Los Angeles.
She is an authority on children’s grief and the author of “Children Grieve Too: a handbook for parents of grieving children” as well as “My Memory Book…for grieving children.”