As we prepared for our feline daughter Ebony’s death last week, I received sage wisdom from my friend Angie, who told me, ‘Give grief its hours.” 

I’d never heard it phrased this way before, and it struck me how often we try to hurry through grief, when it is a process that we must bear, or it will overcome us in some other way. I know this from the experience of losing my mother in 2018. Everything was so busy when she died that I never stopped to deal with the many fragmented emotions and thoughts I had during that time; I still try to make sense of them when they overcome me. I honestly believe that, had I “given my grief its hours” then, if I could have seen a way straight to do so, I’d be much more settled in my feelings over her death now. With no way to go back and change things, though, I must learn from my inactions and not repeat them; I must find closure in life’s current grief in order not to do the same things again now. It seems so logical. Yet, we often let life’s griefs build up or wear us down.

Grief is not always caused by a death, as was the case for us last week when we said good-bye to Ebony after her two-month struggle with lung cancer. Any sort of loss can cause a sense of grief. And let’s face it, we’re all grieving in 2020. Lifestyles have had to change dramatically. Some of us have indeed suffered the physical loss of loved ones, whether pets or family, or friends. Or even celebrities. Today, the world lost an iconic guitar sensation in Eddie Van Halen; earlier this year, I mourned the death of one of my personal favorite musicians, Kenny Rogers. 

To some degree, we have all lost the ability to go places and do things that we normally wouldn’t give second thoughts to doing. Family get-togethers; trips with friends; vacations; eating out. For me, the big loss in this arena has been – arenas. I miss concerts terribly. I was blessed to still get in The 80’s Cruise as the Covid Curtain came down in March, but since then, I have had no fewer than a dozen concerts canceled or postponed until next year, most of which I have just canceled myself, if possible, because I don’t want to continue paying interest charges on them on my credit card until they do or don’t happen a year from now. 

I miss traveling, too. I don’t hesitate much to get in the car to go see friends, or even hop on  a plane to go somewhere, if I can find a decent fare, which, for the record, there are plenty of right now, if you don’t mind taking the chances affiliated with flying. But that’s the tricky part. That, and, I live in a state that has a high Covid rate, so just about anywhere I go out of my immediate state/region would require me to quarantine there before coming home. We learned this recently when pricing airfare to visit Russ’ parents for Thanksgiving in the Chicago area, as we typically do at that time of year. If we fly into an airport in the Chicago area, we have to quarantine up there for two weeks; that isn’t possible on a one-week trip. If we drive, someone could turn us in – Tennessee tags aren’t exactly common in Illinois – and, again, we would be forced to quarantine there for two weeks.

Initially, it made me angry. His parents being alone for the holidays. Chicago’s government telling us what to do. Unknown people ratting us out. But to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t blame anyone for turning us in. I wouldn’t want someone potentially bringing the virus back into my area if I’d already suffered through it once. So I’m replacing my anger with grief. And planning out some ways to keep the holidays with Russ’ parents special. I’m trying to make the most of a bad situation. Listening to lots of music and watching videos online to take the place of concerts for now. Going for drives in my car, and writing about past trips I’ve taken, to relive those thrills and special memories. I’m giving grief its hours, but not letting it turn me bitter, not letting it take over. I think that’s just as important as denying its presence at all.