There is an intense loneliness in grief.  For the first time after the death of your spouse, you realize that you are truly alone.  Communally the pandemic has forced us all to feel the isolation, as well as experience the pervasive grief of lockdown.  We are swimming in a sea of fear.  We are all alone and feeling vulnerable.  We are terrified as we watch the loneliness creep into our psyches and engender even more panic. 

Loss was palpable in 2020.  Lost opportunities, canceled plans, trampled hopes, and the worst loss, the freedom to move about openly without equipping ourselves with masks, shields, and gloves!  Loss of control exacerbates grief and loneliness.  I am a planner, and COVID has thrown my plans onto the garbage heap.  Life is truly on hold until we get vaccinated. 

Grief challenges our assumptions about life.  I find myself trying to make sense of the loss and loneliness.  The loss of control is a constant in my life.  I reel from my own loss and try to find a way to go forward.  But how do I go forward?  How can I plan?  How can I find comfort?

February marked yet another anniversary without my sweet husband Peter.  This is the sixth time I have tried to assuage my loss and make it through the day.  Last year I had a spectacular sushi dinner with my son, Nick.  We toasted Peter and I felt I was moving on.   This year, with the pandemic, I felt the loss so much more intensely.  I have a great friend who has been in my bubble since the start of the lockdown.  I decided I would invite Kath to come over and I would make all of Peter’s favorite foods.  We had shrimp cocktail with horseradish laced cocktail sauce; lobster tails with lots of butter, garlic, and parsley; asparagus (one of the non-offending veggies Peter would tolerate; and chocolate shortbread brownies, courtesy of my neighbor Betsy.  Not being alone on this day was key. I made the best out of a crappy situation and got a good meal to boot!

I know that reaching out to friends is key for me.  My posse of girlfriends comfort me.  I can call and say “who wants to kvetch first?” One is having a bad day.  One is totally down.  One is just plain sad.  After we assess which of our complaints is the greatest, we compare our tales of woe and once they are out in the open, we begin to laugh about which COTD (complaint of the day) is worse.  By speaking openly, and trusting in each other, we can move forward and face each day of this crisis collectively.

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Laurie is the author of the new book The Joke’s Over You Can Come Back Now: How This Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. She can be contacted via her website: or Facebook