A grief unobserved

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Photo by Peter Burleigh

I’ve barely left my home in a year. 

I venture to a park once in a while, and friends from the University of Dallas come over to my apartment to chat with me at a distance on the porch. I’m grateful for those moments appreciating nature and fellowship. 

All in all, a year of online classes and missed events hasn’t been that bad ― objectively speaking. I’ve avoided so many of the tragedies which have become far too common even in the United States. My parents didn’t lose jobs, and I didn’t face eviction, abuse or hunger. 

I don’t pretend to know the loss of a loved one or horrific financial strain, but I still feel very alone in a world that just desperately moved on. My suffering feels irrelevant at times; so many other people around the entire world are experiencing the same struggles, or even worse struggles than my own. 

With that being said, we need to acknowledge the sheer magnitude of what we’ve been through. In some ways, COVID-19 and its effects have brought about a collective tragedy, with many people bearing this emotional weight together. 

Now that we’re slowly going “back to normal” with vaccines, I’m not sure how the fabric of society will recover from the pandemic. Coronavirus has revealed so many inequalities and cruelties that must be eradicated, and the loss of nearly three million people cannot be overstated. 

The burden of this global horror makes the smaller sacrifices particularly painful.

Along with this constant knowledge of sorrows, my main burden has mainly been staying home. It’s been excruciating to watch my fellow seniors have in-person classes, attend Groundhog and engagement parties, and share hugs while I sit alone on my porch. I feel like an outcast, even though I know it’s for my own good. 

I haven’t fully comprehended the tragedy of what my family has been through, or indeed what the entire world has been through. I’m only 22 and I’m already exhausted.

I’m an unusual case because of my health conditions, and my isolation has been much more strict than many of my peers in the United States. Even so, I know there are many other seniors who are reflecting on the loss of what could have been. So many friendships that couldn’t be developed, so many opportunities that faded away, so many of the casual and unexpected joys of everyday life were stripped from us in this last year. Friend groups have closed off, clubs have had event restrictions and students are missing from our classrooms.

Especially in the age of the 24/7 news cycle, it seems antithetical to our modern natures to slow down and sit with our grief for a while. There’s always some new tragedy to briefly mourn before we go back to our lives, but it seems like we’ve skipped right to hopes of normalcy without properly acknowledging the gravity of this worldwide catastrophe. 

For those who are weary like me: even while everything pushes us back to normal, I hope that we can find a way to grieve for all the things we missed, and all the things that will never be “normal” again.

1 COMMENT

  1. I’m so sorry. The grief has been staggering, especially for those who have isolated voluntarily or involuntarily. I too have been at home for a year, taking online classes and keeping home for the most part. And while it’s been “easy” in a certain aspect, I know what you’re going through–the isolation, the grief, feeling like an outcast, all of it; you’re not alone. We will return to those casual joys of pre-Covid life, hopefully sooner than later, but until then know you’re not suffering alone, and we can grieve together. <3

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