My mother passed away in December 2019, just months before the world which she had known all her life would change forever. In March of 2020, COVID-19 appeared in the United States, and the entire world started locking down. When my mom died, I had wanted the world to stop. And then it did.

When I first lost my mom, I was buried in tremendous grief. I grew to know the confusion I’ve heard so many people describe in trying to understand how the world could keep moving when my own world had ended. I yearned to shut down, close in, turn off, space out, and pull within. I thought of historic times when people who were grieving the loss of a loved one, would wear a special piece of clothing. And that piece would signify for all to see that they had suffered a loss and that they were in mourning. I felt fragile, and interactions with anyone felt, at best, false, and at worst, painful. I just wanted the world to stop moving so I could catch my breath.

And then, the pandemic arrived. With little notice, the world stopped moving. And we shut down, as a population, closed in, turned off, spaced out, and pulled within. I discovered the space to catch my breath. I was able to mourn without distraction and I was able to process my feelings because I had the time to write and to read, and to look through old photo albums, and to revisit a lifetime of memories. While I faced many of the same challenges as so many others (loss of connection, fears about my work, sleepless nights of worry about my family), I also welcomed the time that had been allowed me to miss my mom with a full heart and an empty calendar.

As the days turned into weeks and months, many of us who previously chased every item on an overly populated to-do list were now faced with hours spent within our own walls. And what fell away was proof that so much of what had seemed necessary and important before, was actually neither of those things.

So many have suffered tremendous losses in this past year. But I don’t think that there is a scale for loss –that one person’s loss is greater than another’s. Instead, I believe that what is a loss to you IS the most tremendous loss. And this past year, in a period where so many have lost so much, we as a world were able to grieve together.

I believe that we all feel the grief and loss brought on by the pandemic. I hope that we will allow ourselves to heal as we need to. My prayer is that we will come out of this as fully-healed people who have known loss and caught our breath … and with that a result, we will appreciate what the new world brings to us when we can once again open our doors and hold one another.