It’s Memorial Day weekend in the States. In pre-covid times, that meant cookouts, barbecues, parades, and a day off from work – all in the name of honoring loss on memorial day.
I’ve written about the need to make a national day of acknowledgement before (find that here), but this year, Memorial Day feels a little more extra. No matter how much we might wish the pandemic was behind us, lots of people feel anxious about going out after lockdown – outdoor gatherings are safer in some areas, and not safe in others. Add social anxiety into the mix (social anxiety after lockdown is a real thing), and that makes the already awkward situation of being the “grieving person at the party” that much harder.
Of course, the actual meaning of the Memorial Day holiday is rooted in grief: it’s meant as a special time to remember those who have died in service to their country, or died after service to their country. It should be (or could be) a time to talk about grief. But grief isn’t a comfortable topic for most people, which is why even a holiday centered on grief doesn’t pay much attention to grief itself.
There’s a great big elephant in the room this year too: over half a million people died of COVID during the last year in the US alone. Lots of people lost someone to COVID. Lots of people lost someone during the pandemic, though not because of the pandemic. Lots of people lost jobs, homes, health, their sobriety, a sense of normalcy and optimism… this Memorial Day, we aren’t just acknowledging the losses of those in the military (the origins of Memorial Day), we’re also reeling from loss upon loss upon loss.
That intersection of grief and family gatherings and COVID-19 and Memorial Day weekend “festivities” is a tricky one. If you’re feeling an increase of grief or anxiety connected to this holiday weekend, you aren’t alone.
While you may not feel comfortable bringing up grief at a gathering – or maybe you’re not comfortable gathering at all – make time to sit with your own sense of loss. Honoring your loss on Memorial Day weekend by writing or journaling is one option. You might connect with a friend who also lost someone or something this year, using this grief-based holiday as your starting point. Whatever you choose, giving grief the space it needs and deserves is a great way to honor this holiday.
What’s Memorial Day weekend been for you in the past? What’s it like for you this year – has anything changed? If you’re planning to gather with others to celebrate the life, or mourn the loss, of someone you love, let us know in the comments.That intersection of grief and family gatherings and COVID-19 and Memorial Day weekend “festivities” is a tricky one. If you’re feeling an increase of grief or anxiety connected to this holiday weekend, you aren’t alone. Click To Tweet
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