Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

How to grieve after a year of loss

A man leans on his table looking sad and looking out his window
In this pandemic, you might be feeling fine one day, and then anxious the next. It might be because you're grieving the life you had before many people were forced into isolation.
Andrew Neel via Pexels

The pandemic is more than a physical crisis. It’s an emotional one, too. The year has been filled with anxiety, stress and sadness — a collective sorrow.

Some people are mourning the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. Millions are grieving the loss of jobs and financial stability. But there’s also a sadness that lingers just beneath the surface related to the collapse of our normal systems — education, health care, work and personal networks. 

So-called ambiguous loss is harder to define, because it’s ongoing and complicated. It’s what we feel after losing the more intangible parts of our lives due to social distancing and lockdowns.

So how do we cope? MPR News guest host Chris Farrell got some advice from grief experts on how we can make it through the 2020 holidays — and look toward healing in 2021.


  • Pauline Boss, professor emeritus in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota

  • Rebecca Soffer, founder and CEO of Modern Loss

Correction (Dec. 8, 2020): A previous version of this story incorrectly titled ambiguous loss. The story has been updated.

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