With the official U.S. death toll from the pandemic recently reaching 500,000 people, Covid-19 is now the leading cause of death in the U.S., and more lives have been lost to the pandemic than to World War II and the Vietnam War combined.
This Elemental newsletter article features University of Arizona psychologist Mary Frances O’Connor, a specialist in grief, explaining what happens in your brain when someone you love dies.
According to O’Connor, there is a difference between grief and grieving. You will likely never stop grieving the loss of your spouse; 20 years later, the sadness and yearning will still be there, but it won’t always be the overwhelming waves of pain that bring you to your knees at the beginning. Those pangs can last for months or even years, but eventually, they will start to be balanced by a resiliency and the return to a meaningful life without the person.
“I think it’s useful for people to know that what they’re experiencing right now is a normal reaction. It’s happening to way more people than it should be all at once because of the massive mortality rate, but that distress is the natural response to loss.”Mary Frances O’Connor, Associate Professor, Clinical Director of Clinical Training, University of Arizona