January 28, 2020 | LIFE | By Mahnoor Rehman | Illustration by Kira Schulist

Entering 2022 with nostalgia, heartbreak, grief, and indescribable sadness? You are not alone. I, myself, have met so many people who are going through the process of grieving for several reasons. It seems like every one of us is being treated unfairly by the universe. It is completely okay to feel sad and frustrated because you know you don’t deserve this mistreatment.  

This article has nothing to do with how to cope with sadness or any form of grief. It is, in fact, just a tiny step towards an acknowledgment of sadness as a worthy feeling and state of being that is completely valid. I hope that we all learn to acknowledge and later accept our feelings of grief without being forced to hide them.

We are in the middle of a devastating pandemic. Every one of us has lost something, or someone, valuable to us due to these brutal and strange circumstances. Although our losses are often not similar or even comparable, the impact of COVID-19 has left a mess of collective trauma on our generation.

Collective trauma is real; it is happening all around us. Once we connect the dots, it is visible in our friend groups, workspaces, classrooms, and families. Living in the time of social media and an ongoing pandemic is exhausting. Not all communities are equipped to deal with the massive amount of stress that life throws at us.

A wave of sadness seems to be capturing the beginning of 2022, as it is the third consecutive year of the pandemic. Anxiety and depression have found cracks and crevices to seep through and embed themselves into our daily lives.

It is hard to be on a Zoom meeting and not think about the outdoors, faces without masks, hugs, and being physically around the people we love. And if you are already dealing with an emotionally taxing situation, it can create layers of pain.

In general, people tend to stay at home during the cold weather. However, due to COVID-19, the ongoing isolation just adds to the feeling of loneliness which can easily manifest itself into sadness.

Grief has its own way of latching onto us. Crying, sudden realizations, remembrance of memories, homesickness, and painful nostalgia can all lead towards feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. However, kindness to oneself during these moments is the act of self-care we must have the courage to practice. 

Denial might seem like an easy way to deal with sadness. It seems like a simple way of packing your emotions and leaving them in your closet to disappear with time. But is it really the best way to manage trauma and begin the process of healing?

Acceptance is a hard and long process with ups and downs throughout. Sadness is layered and there is no weakness attached to it. One thing that I have learned from the long list of losses that occurred during the last two years is that acceptance is the only thing that leads us into the space of healing. And the space of healing is always worth the effort.

Our body and mind are in situations that, in some ways, they are not prepared to handle. We need warmth and sunlight in the middle of the winters. I hope that we find solidarity through grief, and that we treat our sadness kindly.

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