Coping with prolonged grief over George Floyd, mass shootings and the pandemic 

A woman holds her hands up in reverence near the George Floyd mural.
An elderly woman, who knew nothing of him until that fateful day, pays homage to an ordinary man who faced an extraordinarily cruel death. Respecting her private moment, others left her to stand in solitude at George Floyd Square.
Photo by KingDemetrius Pendleton

Wednesday marks two years since George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer. 

His death brought anger and deep sorrow over America’s racist legacy to the forefront. Many people are grieving not only his death but also the deep wounds of racial injustice. 

At the same time, the pandemic has thrown us loss after loss. Loved ones have died from COVID-19. The pandemic has stolen life milestones, jobs and our sense of security. 

And now the month of May brings new collective grief with the deadly shooting in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York and this week’s shooting in a Texas school.

Like stress, grief can accumulate, sometimes without us recognizing what we’re feeling.  

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with two therapists about the waves of loss many people experienced over the past two years and how people can cope with prolonged grief and trauma. 

Guests: 

  • Bravada Garrett-Akinsanya is a psychologist who specializes in African-American mental health. She is the president and founder of Brakins Consulting & Psychological Services and the executive director of African American Child Wellness Institute, Inc. in Plymouth. 

  • Fiyyaz Karim is a lecturer in the University of Minnesota's masters programs for integrated behavioral health and addictions counseling. He has worked in the areas of grief and loss associated with unemployment, relationship break ups, chronic illness, addictions and, most recently, the pandemic.

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