Recently, I spoke with with writer and educator Julie Flynn Badal about the lessons I learned while writing The Secret Life of Grief and how they can help us during this challenging time.

Julie shared our conversation with Quartz, and I’m honored that they published our interview earlier this week: “What We Lose When We Grieve in Isolation.”

As Julie said so eloquently,

“The coronavirus pandemic has cast much of the world into a collective state of grief. Our sense of loss covers a wide spectrum: from loss of personal space and freedoms to dashed expectations and visions to loss of our physical or mental health to the loss of loved ones. . . .

Julie Flynn Badal

“Most cultures have developed traditions around grief to help people contain and move through the intense feelings of loss; and most of these rituals involve community. The collective nature of mourning rituals support and hold the bereaved through the emotional process.

“But in this period of social distancing, many people now find themselves grieving in isolation. . . . As a result, our grief might remain unexpressed, get congested, or be postponed. Unprocessed grief can have traumatic impact and can result in anger, rage, violence, depression, and substance abuse. Most bereavement counselors agree that it’s important to grieve consciously and intentionally in order to heal, grow, and move forward.”

I’m not a bereavement counselor–just a woman who’s plumbed the depths of grief, then wrote about it, but I wholeheartedly agree with Julie’s assessment. Unprocessed grief doesn’t go away–it eventually resurfaces, often in messy and unfortunate ways. I spent the first 28 years of my life avoiding my grief and when it finally exploded, it was pretty dang ugly. That’s why I wrote this book after my mother’s death–because I knew there had to be a better way.

And if there’s anything we’re learning right now, it’s that damn, there’s a much better way. A much better way to how we’ve been living, what we’ve been prioritizing, where we’re spending our energy, how we’re using our hearts. So let’s use this time to course-correct, my dear. Let’s make meaning where there appears to be none. Shine a light in the darkness.

Here’s the link to our interview again. It’s a quick read and I hope our conversation buoys you during these challenging times. (Click here if you’d like to watch the full interview.)



P.S.: Time is moving so strangely right now that I keep forgetting Mother’s Day is this weekend. Happy Mother’s Day to you and your loved ones!

And if you’re grappling with a loss this holiday, please know you’re not alone. Here’s a piece I wrote about navigating Mother’s Day after my mother’s death.

P.S.S.: If you’d like to read The Secret Life of Grief, you can find it here.

P.P.S.S.: If you’re ready to start writing your story, grab your Story Starter Kit here.



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