The Loss of Shared Grief and Rituals

By Latanya Farrar | Sep 13, 2020

As hard as it is to grieve the death of a loved one, it is now even more challenging due to COVID-19. The rituals that we normally observe have been either cancelled or limited to very few family members.  The loss of connection and love felt when we are collectively grieving a loved one makes the death so much harder.  Our loved one deserved so much more than us watching a live stream on social media. However, here we are dealing with both the grief of our loved one and the loss of rituals which hold so much meaning and significance.

Family & Friends

It is just something about having your extended family and close friends show up when you are hurting and overcome with grief.  I will never forget when my mother died, I was distraught and emotional but in the mist of my despair family members and friends were there to hold me up, request that I eat and just love me.  I can only imagine in this current state how hard it must be to not feel that source of strength. I can think of nothing that replaces a hug.  During this time of COVID-19, we just must be even more thankful for the limited close family and friends that can stand with us as we mourn.

The Homegoing

In the African American community, we typically recognize the loss of a loved one as a celebration and return of the deceased to the Lord.  This significant ritual includes both sadness and joy wrapped up in not just the homegoing service but the repass held afterwards.  The loss of showing respect to our family and friends during these important rituals both leave us feeling surreal and even guilty. I suggest to you that when we are able to gather again that you take the time to still hold these rituals which are full of meaning and value and I believe they also offer a bit of closure as well.

The repass for my mom held so much significance for me.  I carefully selected food that I knew she loved and would want others to enjoy such as Popeye’s chicken.  Although I was present in body, I only felt grounded because I was surrounded by family and friends that loved me. Our traditions and rituals are so significant and the loss of these moments amidst COVID-19 add to our already broken hearts.  May our rituals and love hold even more meaning for us as we soon return to gatherings with family and friends we love.

Latanya Farrar, LCSW


Latanya Farrar

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