It usually takes me weeks or even months to process grief. The past two years have been especially traumatic for so many people who have lost loved ones in their family and friend circles due to COVID and other natural deaths. I was not personally affected by COVID deaths, but I have struggled processing so much loss in such a short period of time.
Lately it seems like some of our beloved and favorite celebrities are passing on. Betty White was just shy of 100 years old and lived a long and successful life. However, the death of Andre Leon Talley, famed fashion taste maker and editor, at the age of 73, seems far too young for someone to pass on. I have been trying to wrap my mind around so many losses in such a short succession and bracing myself for the reality that I am entering an era where I will begin to lose celebrity icons I grew up with, family and friends, and people in the baby boom generation who have been in my life in some capacity for many years.
When I lost my grandparents in my late twenties, I was really at a loss as to how I would ever process the loss. I recently witnessed a dear friend lose his grandmother and was immediately transported back to the feelings of being “unmoored” without the people who have loved me since the day I was born. I was able to share a photo with my friend about processing grief. The photo essentially explains that if we imagine grief as a ball, it does not shrink over time. Rather the jar gets larger over time to encapsulate the ball of grief and allow for more blessings and happiness to fill the jar.
As I process the reality that loss is a part of life, I am continuing to keep the families and community members in the Bronx in the forefront of my mind. As the entire Gambian and Bronx and New York communities heal from the tragic apartment fire, the loss will take time to comprehend. As members of the NYPD continue to heal from the loss of their colleagues who were killed in the line of duty, I am trying to keep that entire community in my mind as well, something that I have not actively done in the past.
Although the effects of COVID do not seem as deadly as they once were in early 2020, we must still remain vigilant and remember the countless families and communities who have lost loved ones and continue to lose friends and family due to COVID complications and preexisting conditions complicated by COVID.
It is unrealistic to think the new year will not bring a series of losses, but hopefully the new year will allow us to grow and heal…even in loss.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.