Grief and the non-death losses of Covid-19

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Articles in the popular media and testimonies collected in empirical work suggest that many people who have not been bereaved have nevertheless grieved over pandemic-related losses of various kinds. There is a philosophical question about whether any experience of a non-death loss ought to count as grief, hinging upon how the object of grief is construed. However, even if one accepts that certain significant non-death losses are possible targets of grief, many reported cases of putative pandemic-related grief may appear less plausible. For instance, it might be argued that many of these losses are temporary or minor and therefore unlikely to be grieved, and that the associated experiences are phenomenologically dissimilar to grief. In this article, as well as discussing the more general question about the coherence of the idea of non-bereavement grief, we address these obstacles to taking reports of pandemic non-bereavement grief to be literal and true. In particular, we argue that some may have experienced grief over even apparently minor losses during the pandemic. This is generally so, we suggest, only insofar as experiences of such losses form part of an overarching grief process directed at some broader significant loss. Thus, we cast light on both the nature of non-bereavement grief and the kinds of disruption and loss experienced during the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Early online date21 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Dec 2022

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