Grieving Friends During a Pandemic
When I first started working on the Friend Grief series, I Googled ‘grieving the death of a friend’. I went past the normal first page of responses, to check out the first hundred. Many of the responses dealt with how to support a friend who’s grieving; important, but not what I was looking for. In the end, there were less than ten that actually addressed the experience of grieving the death of a friend. There were more that addressed grieving the death of a pet.
My writing has always been a niche. People have written memoirs about the death of a friend, but other than a textbook, my books were pretty unusual.
Last fall, when I was deciding whether to rework that series, I took a hard look at what was going on around me. Early in the pandemic, people had urged me to add a book to the series, one about losing friends to COVID. I resisted: as far as I was concerned, the series was finished. And frankly, early on, the stories I heard were just too similar to warrant a book.
By September, that changed. I was not only hearing stories, but themes. Some of them related to the experiences of long-term survivors in the AIDS community, now facing their second pandemic. Some of them related to technology, which has both simplified and complicated our lives, as we struggle to find meaningful ways to grieve.
With the help of my therapist, I was able to at least partially overcome my resistance. I’ll spend most of the month of May in New York City, hunkered down in a hotel room to work on the first draft and conduct some interviews. Not all interviews have to be in person, which is why I’m finally getting to the point of this post.
If a friend of yours has died during this pandemic, I hope you will consider sharing your story. It’s not necessary that they died from COVID. We are under the same restrictions for public grieving ceremonies regardless of the circumstances. If you would like to share the story of your friendship, and how its loss has affected you, please contact me. I would love to hear about your experience.
The 9/11 Memorial in NYC has 2,982 names carved into it.
The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC has 58,390 names.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt has 94,000 names on over 48,000 panels, making it too large to display in its entirety.
We don’t know yet how to memorialize those who died from COVID - over 550,000 in the US alone. But in the meantime, we can honor them by telling their stories.