In Spite of Everything:
Living with (and Beyond) Loss
BY: DR. NURIT ISRAELI
“I measure every Grief I meet /
With narrow, probing eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine
– / Or has an Easier size.”
– Emily Dickinson
Counseling individuals during
the COVID-19 Pandemic, I
ask them to enumerate the
losses that have affected their lives
in recent months. The responses
confirm what we know: None of us
has escaped losses since the corona-virus
has taken hold. Our lives have
changed dramatically. The world
has filled with unfamiliar dangers.
The virus has driven us indoors. It
has physically separated us. Public
places are desolate. New stressors
are thrown at us daily. There is a
predominant feeling of unsafety.
Our resilience is being challenged.
The psychological reverberations of
COVID-19 are tremendous!
How are you faring these days?
What changes have you person-ally
experienced since this crisis
What do you grieve?
How are you coping?
How do you remain socially con-nected
despite social distancing?
What helps you adapt to the new
What are your sources of
We are all struggling with vary-ing
degrees of grief, and we each
have our own idiosyncratic ways
June of coping. Let me share what I am
grieving right now, as well as some
¢of my sources of inspiration.
COURIER First and foremost, I grieve the
loss of the lives taken by the virus
loss of routines I used to take for
to distinguish one from another,
and the lives currently in danger.
granted, like the ease of getting
weekdays from weekends. I need
Finding out that those dearest
food, or socializing with family
to check a calendar to find out
TOWERS to me had not been spared was
and friends, or just leaving my
what day it is...
especially painful! I have been
apartment to walk outdoors – free,
Abraham Maslow was an
thrust into existential stress: the
unafraid. Living under lockdown
American psychologist best known
precarity of living with a relent-less
for weeks is a challenge. Getting
for creating a hierarchy of needs –
SHORE virus – particularly harmful
food and other necessities deliv-ered
a theory demonstrating how innate
to older adults – prompts me to
is a challenge. Living with
human needs, such as biological
recognize how profoundly special
uncertainty, not knowing for how
needs and safety needs, must be
NORTH the gift of time is, how I need to
long, is a major challenge! This
fulfilled before higher needs such
savor and be grateful for every
pandemic has changed my sense
as self-actualization can be pur-sued.
path to spiritual growth. In the
of time. The days blend together,
According to his model, we
words of philosopher Arthur
20 I grieve the loss of normalcy: the
flowing into each other, no events
are now reduced to basic survival
Schopenhauer: “Mostly it is loss m o d e .
Much of our time, energy, and wor-ry
focuses on basic tasks such as
cleaning, disinfecting, getting food,
etc., and managing to do it all with-out
exposing ourselves or others to
the danger of being infected.
A dependence on technological
devices and social media is yet
another source of stress, especially
for members of the older genera-tions
less accustomed to depending
on these means of communication.
Our 2020 Passover Seder, for exam-ple,
took place on Zoom. Our
dining table was adorned with my
laptop, the screen filled with faces
of loved ones. Instead of just focus-ing
on familiar holiday traditions,
I had to focus on maneuvering an
unfamiliar Zoom. But the plague
narrative was more real this year
than ever before! The corona virus,
an invisible and stealthy enemy, was
an uninvited guest in our Seder
experience, his literal, insistent
presence ever so powerful. This
year, I strongly identified with the
frightened humans depicted in the
Passover story, confined to their
homes, praying that the Angel of
Death will Pass over them, spar-ing
them from tragedy. I yearn to
witness a final outcome of the
corona saga similar to that of
the Passover story: overcoming,
survival, redemption, recovery,
and perhaps even the ultimate
discovery of meaning.
But how can we get there?
What can help us hope? How do
I hold on to the glass-half-full?
There is one thing all mental
health experts agree upon: We
must accept our grief, allow
ourselves space and time to feel
deeply, reflect, and acknowledge
the sadness or whatever other
emotional reaction we have.
Things are not ok! The news
triggers stress! Losses devastate!
Waves of grief are frequent! There
is strength in acknowledging our
vulnerabilities. Grief may help
us see clearer what is important;
may make us wiser, more sensi-tive,
more empathic; may be a