On Grief: Processing Pain in a Pandemic

Processing grief is not easy, especially in a pandemic. Almost all of us have either lost a loved one or know someone who has lost their loved one in the past few months. The sheer helplessness that surrounds all of us right now is not “normal”.

Morning rituals now look like waking up, checking your phone in the bed with a squinted eye and baited breath that hopefully, there wouldn’t be any tragic news to read today at least. Unfortunately, most often it is the opposite. You wake up, you come across a minimum of one post notifying you of passing away of someone you’ve known, met or heard about. You think of the multiple permutation-combinations of ‘Rest in peace’, ‘My condolences’, ‘Sorry for your loss’, ‘Keeping you and yours in my thoughts and prayers’ etc etc and type one of those.

And then you just take that book out from the bag, switch on that laptop, log in to the system and start working or at least attempt to do so. But this is just absurd! How are we supposed to function like this? How are we supposed to live like this? The survivor’s guilt is too real.

Knowing that your life is relatively the “same” when your friends have lost their parents, your colleagues have lost their partners, your neighbours have lost their family members, does have the tendency to make you almost feel guilty. Despite knowing fully well that all this is beyond your control. But does knowing that make much of a difference? You can’t take a single day off from grief but the world is going on as usual. You experience a new heartbreak everyday and yet, the world just keeps going on. Now you may or may not complain against it, but you do feel hurt.

We are dealing with such huge amounts of grief, all at once. Rarely have we felt or experienced something like this before. We are at a loss of words every now and then because what do you even say when your loved ones simply lose the anchors of their lives in a fraction of a second?

We may not even know fully well how to process all this grief at once. If only those GIFs of virtual hugs could replace the real, tangible feeling of embracing a loved one. If only the Zoom prayer meets could give that space to mourn the ones we lost.


Ayushi Khemka created Mental Health Talks India in April 2018. She believes in channelising one’s vulnerabilities into an honest conversation that can potentially bring about a change in how we live and exist in the world. Living with depression and anxiety herself, she wishes to end the stigma around mental health in India. She is also a PhD student working on the intersections of gender, social media and violence.

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