Living in a World of Grief

In the midst of the pandemic, we're finding a new language of loss, one that holds space for all the ways we grieve.

Adobe Stock/ Siam

In the days following the death of my mother almost 14 years ago, I was desperate for words to describe the chasm that had opened beneath me. So when a friend who’d recently lost her own mother insisted I read C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed, I got the book immediately and opened to the first words of the first chapter: “No one ever told me that grief feels so like fear.”

If you’re familiar with the five stages of grief as famously characterised by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, you’ll know that among the well-known DABDA (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) framework, there is no F for fear. 

“No one ever told me that grief feels so like fear.”

C.S. Lewis

It’s an omission that grief therapist Claire Bidwell Smith has thought a lot about. The author of the recent Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief, Bidwell Smith had lost both of her parents to cancer by her 25th birthday. The way this grief manifested in her didn’t seem to align with what we expect grief to look like: “I felt enormous anxiety,” she says, in part because “our culture isn’t so great at talking about grief” and in…