Last summer I was “attending” an online funeral and it really hit me how wrong it felt. Death and grief should be a time of community, of gathering, an acknowledgement of our collective grief and the very first moment of healing. So much of what happens with our healing will be determined by what happened in our grief.

Over the last year, it’s not just that we haven’t had the opportunity to physically gather in our grief – although that’s part of it. It’s that we have to fight, daily, to convince people this tragedy of death is happening. We have had to defend the fact that our hearts are breaking, and the sorrow is so heavy, and the fear that this harm will visit even more of our loved ones is a reality.

How can you begin to grieve, and start a path toward healthy healing, when you have to spend your energy defending your right to feel grief in the first place?

In the days and weeks and months to come, I hope to see more ceremonies like today’s acknowledgment of the 400,000+ U.S. lives lost. And remember that the over 2 million deaths worldwide should also be acknowledged.

It’s difficult to think about memorializing things when they are still happening, but our nation has to be allowed to sit in their feelings, their sadness and anger and fear. We have to be allowed to join together, even if we can only do so virtually still, without also being afraid of being mocked, being told we are weak or dramatic, because of that fear and grief and anger. We aren’t ready to move on from any of this, because it is still happening, but also because it has been so cruelly unacknowledged, even hidden.

Your sorrow is valid, and important. Your anger is valid, and justified. Your fear is valid, and logical. And I join you in all of it.

Pres. Elect Biden, Dr. Biden, Vice Pres. Elect Harris, Mr. Emhoff at the COVID memorial ceremony.
Photo from KTLA.