Ambiguous Loss in the Age of Covid-19

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We’re all in this together. We’ve all heard and read those words too many times to count. We are all in this together, all experiencing out own ambiguous losses – apart, but together – as if that makes any sense.

Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous loss is a loss without closure. Examples include the disappearance of a loved one, infertility, and dementia, just to name a few. In this age of Covid-19 it includes missing your graduation and all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds that event. It could also include canceling the wedding you’ve planned for a year, or the baby shower that can’t take place now due to shelter in place rules.


Ambiguous loss is all about uncertainty, something all of us have been living with profoundly, for the last two months. Not knowing when this will end means delaying plans. Living in the moment is good, but having something to look forward to is also important for our mental health. For children and young adults just starting out on their own, this is a particularly difficult time, even if they haven’t articulate it.

New Normal

The reality is, none of us have been through this sort of pandemic before. None of us has lived in a world that has been virtually put on hold for months at a time. We don’t know what the new normal is and won’t until there’s a vaccine and that could be months if not years. There will be profound changes in our daily lives. From shopping to socializing, dining and entertainment to education. The world on the other side of Covid-19 is going to look very different.

We are all experiencing a loss. Whether it is missing your favorite sports team play or missing your graduation or retiring without saying goodbye to coworkers. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of these things, as well as the old normal, and those things we didn’t even know we would miss. Going to the mall to hang out with friends doesn’t seem like a big deal, but now that it isn’t allowed in large groups it feels like a loss. It is a loss. Let yourself grieve for the loss of certainty.

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