The USA is caught with a ‘grief outbreak’. These CNN Heroes help people navigate


With about half a million people dying from Covid-19 globally, many have felt it in the past few months.

However, experts say that you do not have to mourn the death of a loved one in order to experience the pain and loss of grief.

“People have lost their freedom to act about their routines, their communities, their jobs, and only connect with family and friends,” founders Annette March-Grier said. Roberta HouseIs a recline center in Baltimore, Maryland. “Covid-19 created what we call social loss. This is a collective grief experience by everyone.”
Annette March-Grier founded Roberta's House, a nonprofit grief support center in Baltimore.

For decades, March-Grier and Robinson have provided free support that helps thousands of families commit the death of a loved one. Both were previously honored as the CNN Heroes.

When the epidemic hit the USA, they realized that their expertise was needed when their communities were overwhelmed by grief and loss.

Mary Robinson is the founder of the non-profit Imagine: Center for Struggle with Losses.

In addition to bringing his regular services online, both have now expanded their work. The neighborhood of March-Grier was severely affected by the virus, so it creates a new online group, especially for those who have lost someone against the pandemic.

Robinson now offers virtual meetings on the front lines for healthcare professionals and first responders. Both non-profit organizations also use social media to educate the public about ways to deal with.

The most important messages: It is okay to feel sad.

“There’s a grief outbreak right now,” says Robinson. And it is very important that we, as people, recognize this and allow ourselves to grieve. ”

Amid this unprecedented atmosphere of loss, George Floyd’s traumatic death caused a major global response.

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“(This) has created an explosion … This is grief above sorrow now,” March-Grier believes that people mourn not only for the loss of Floyd’s life, but for the loss of justice represented by his death.

“This man represents the son of every mother … every husband in America, his brother,” he said. “(This) gave people reason to act on the anger they were suppressing. … 100% unresolved afflicted. “

In turn, March-Grier and his team offer their community healing workshops. Since emotions are high during this difficult time, he and Robinson want to know that there are steps people can take to manage their emotions healthily and feel better.

“The most important thing you can do is really talk,” Robinson said. “If you have a best friend or therapist … you need to process all your feelings and take them out. Otherwise, they just stay inside and can cause physical harm, emotional damage.”

“The way we can deal with grief constructively is to do something positive – take action and protest peacefully. Help someone in need.” “It makes a positive sense to grow in this regard.”

CNN’s Kathleen Toner spoke with Robinson and March-Grier about her work during this time. Below is an edited version of their chats.

CNN: You said it was useful to find meaning in grief and loss.

Mary Robinson: For me, working in the area of ​​grief support was a way to make sense of my father’s loss. The good thing that comes out of the current crisis is that we’re talking globally about grief and loss. We all say, “We, as humans, upset all the losses.” And we call this experience. When you have a name for it, you can do something about it.

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Annette March-Grier: Many people dealing with grief do not realize that we have a choice. For example, if you have two individuals who experience the tragic murder of someone you love. Someone may decide to get angry, retaliate and go down the devastating, dark path. The other one may decide that this person’s life means something bigger and that “I will do something to make sure that this life is not in vain”. This last one has a healthier perspective and will lead a productive, successful life. Now, although George Floyd’s life has been taken, we can make sense of it by changing the laws and changing the culture of society. We deal with it this way and proceed.

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CNN: How did the restrictions during the epidemic affect people mourning the deceased?

March-Grier: People are not allowed to mourn and mourn in a special way. They cannot attend funerals; they cannot hold a repentance or family meeting after service. They cannot follow traditions of being surrounded by family and friends. This is heartbreaking.

Robinson: One of the things we suggest is that people be creative. Perform an online memorial service and perform a ritual together. Maybe light a candle, read your favorite poem or sing the favorite music of the deceased. It is really important to mark these parts of life and mourn together, so we have to find ways to do this virtually.

CNN: Is there any other advice to help people right now?

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Robinson: The three most important things we can do to look after ourselves are first: talking and expressing your feelings. Secondly: exercise – walking, cycling, hooping. Being physical is very important because it releases kinetic energy that accompanies difficult emotions in your body. And the last one is awareness: take deep breaths, do some meditation.

Another good thing you should know is that if you feel sad or depressed today, it will pass. Sorrow is like air – it comes and goes and we have no control over it.

March-Grier: Try to deal with all three of you mentally, physically and spiritually. Try to nurture positive inspiration or wisdom every day. Eat regularly and healthy. Hug with your pets, especially if you feel lonely. Continue your religious practices. Try to keep your routines as normal as possible. And reach your family and friends. Do not let you be isolated during this time.

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Our motto is: “I care for you, you care for me and we care for each other.” It is very important for us as people to connect. Whenever we have a crisis, we don’t want to deal with it alone.

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