Collective Grief — grateful, yet grieving

Pam Luschei

(Photo: Unsplash)

This past week brought two worldwide reminders of loss: the anniversary of 9/11 and the death of Queen Elizabeth.

In 2001, the world watched us as a nation grieve and now, we are watching a nation grieve their beloved queen. This kind of grief is known as collective grief.

“Collective grief happens when a community, society, village, or nation all experience extreme change or loss. Collective grief can manifest in the wake of major events such as war, natural disasters, or others that result in mass casualties or widespread tragedy.” (Grief Recovery Center)

Time has passed but every year we stop to remember the tragedy of 9/11. I’ve been to the Pentagon Memorial in Washington D.C. and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. Both sites are hallowed ground as you walk about the memorials and read the names of those who died. A sense of sacredness hovers in these spaces.

This week I’ve observed the many ways England is honoring the Queen. The pomp and circumstance offer us another perspective of grieving someone we know but didn’t really know. 

In the Old Testament, after Moses died, the people took a month to mourn. Deuteronomy 34:7 and 8, says, “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.” God’s people set aside time to mourn and allowed time and togetherness help them heal.

Collective grief offers something similar.

We are reminded we are not alone. There’s a connection in the shared sorrow of grieving with others. Death is a universal experience, yet uniquely experienced by each individual in their own way.

We recognize the impact and importance of grief in a community. An entire community and culture join as one to overshadow the individuality of each person.

We are offered an opportunity to see grief as a reverent form of respect. Grief is honored and practiced with dignity in a culture of “hurry up and get over it.” This is a gift to all of us.

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Used with permission from Pam Luschei.

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