How does public mourning help us? POPSUGAR examines collective grief and how to hold space for someone whose grief looks different than yours. Feeling like we’re sharing an experience — joy or mourning — is a very powerful thing. We need to be seen by and see each other.
Collective grief is something most of us are familiar with, whether we acknowledge it or not. It’s the result of living through the pandemic or experiencing natural disasters, deaths of iconic figures, or any unexpected loss shared with a community. Public mourning is a natural way to seek validation, feel witnessed, and receive acknowledgement.
Take Queen Elizabeth II’s death, for example. The New York Times reported that: “When the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death broke, after a hush, people gathered outside Buckingham Palace broke into ‘God Save the Queen.'” Online, there was an outpour of commemorative posts on social media.
Of course, not everyone is processing the queen’s death in the same way. “There’s a lot of rage for colonized people, and it’s justified and valid,” says Megan Devine, psychotherapist, grief advocate, and author of “It’s OK That You’re Not OK.” “You can’t have a celebration of the queen without also letting her be her whole self, which was an agent of destruction. We get so uncomfortable telling the whole truth about a person, especially after death.”
Collective grief holds overlapping experiences, and mourning as a community is beneficial even when your relationship to the deceased is complicated. POPSUGAR spoke with grief experts about better understanding collective grief, whether or not it can help with the healing process, and how to hold space for others.