The world is grieving: What can we do?
Keo Bunny, Features Editor
Grief surrounds us all. It’s the defining characteristic of being human. But how do you deal with the idea of grief hanging around us all the time? With the influx in new technology and social media, access to information became as easy as pulling out your phone. But with this emergence also comes the access to an unbridled, unfiltered flow of tragic events from around the world. Deathly news follows deathly news but when it gets too much, what can we do about it? We can do what we’ve always done — talk about it.
One hundred fifty-one dead in South Korea. One hundred thirty-four dead in India. Countless dead, globally from the COVID-19 pandemic. News of the dead filters in like a never-ending river. Grief seems so universal lately, it seems like a primary colour in the world’s palette. In fact, a new disorder has been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as of March 2022. Aptly named Prolonged Grief Disorder, some of the symptoms include extreme emotional pain, sorrow or anger and a sense of disbelief about death among other things.
As much as these deaths can weigh on the collective human consciousness, a quiet question can be posed whenever a tragedy happens far away from home: can you grieve for people you didn’t even know? According to Vitas Healthcare, after a public tragedy or natural disaster, even people who aren’t directly involved in the incident may feel an overwhelming sense of sympathy. They also cause us to reevaluate what is truly important in our lives. Other feelings may include guilt, shock and anger. All of these feelings are valid.
Talkabout, a magazine focused on highlighting conversations about death and dying, says that everyone grieves differently. If you need a real life example, think about the effect of the death of the queen and its reach throughout the globe. Even though people didn’t know the queen on a personal level, support and pain poured from countries across the world.
But with global grief at an all time high, what can ordinary people do to ease some of their own minds from the secondhand suffering that they might be receiving from social media and news?
Grief specialist Dr. Chloe Paidoussis Mitchell says that sharing these experiences is an important part of the healing process.
“It is really important to also appreciate that whilst grief is a personal journey it is also a collective affair,” she told Huffington Post. “So reaching out to friends and family to share the impact of the loss is important.”
Other sources seem to agree with her. Mary-Frances O’Connor is a clinical psychologist as well as an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona.
“Grief is a universal experience,” she told NPR. “And when we connect, it is better.”
If you are feeling overwhelmed by grief or are seeking help, connection or guidance, Mount Royal University (MRU) Wellness Services is located in room U216 near the MRU Recreation Centre. Aside from physicians, psychiatrists and mental health nurses, they also have a variety of resources like support groups, workshops and seminars.