Grief in the Age of Coronavirus (My Coronavirus Diaries, Installment #13)



April 24, 2020


I keep a binder filled
with obituaries
of every loved one
I have lost.

The binder is divided
into sections,
each section
in chronological order:

Friends & Neighbors
Church & Community Friends

In my lifetime,
I have grieved
1 set of great-grandparents,
2 sets of grandparents,
My parents,
1 brother,
Most of my aunts and uncles,
Many cousins,
and a Host
of friends, neighbors, church-friends;
doctors, teachers, advisors,
significant others.

Some years,
the deaths and grieving
came in waves.

In summer 2004,
my family gathered
every few weeks
for funerals.

In other years,
we gathered once or twice,
or not at all.

For all these losses,
the gatherings
and shared memories,
hugs, tears, and laughs
made the grief bearable.

Our loved ones’ spirits
lived on
at holiday dinners,
and just because.

Covid grief is harder to bear.
It’s not just loved ones
I grieve for.

Now I grieve
for the whole world—
the rich and the famous,
the veterans and the babies,
the nameless
known only because
they died a terrible death.

Now I grieve,
Not just for the dead,
but for the living—
the family members
and friends
and colleagues
I can’t visit,
can’t touch,
can’t feel

except via
telephone wires,
cell towers,
Zoom and Skype,
Or Facebook.

“They” keep telling us,
“We’re all in this

Why, then,
does this Covid grief
make me feel
like the last person
on Earth?


About this poem: This poem originally appeared as a post to the private group, NPR Poetry With Kwame Alexander, in response to a prompt about learning from grief.

8 thoughts on “Grief in the Age of Coronavirus (My Coronavirus Diaries, Installment #13)

  1. I hope I am not duplicating a post; I ran into some log-in/password issues! What I wrote before, is that this poem resonated and I thank you for sharing it. I had two thoughts: first, that you are blessed to have such a connected family. I don’t envy your grief at losing so many fine people, but my own family is so scattered and estranged that I have hardly anyone. But the last half of your poem really got me. Every morning, during my meditation, I hold in the Light everyone effected by Covid19; people suffering with this virus, their family, their caregivers, everyone. Which kind of becomes everyone on Earth. And I feel so helpless, that all I can do is whisper ‘May they be comforted’ and maybe run a few errands and make and donate a few masks. It’s a lonesome feeling.


    1. Thank you for your comment. Not a duplicate at all and much appreciated! I admire your efforts to stay engaged in helping others. As lonely as we all feel, making connections is essential to living through these times.


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