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Phenomenological Reflections on Grief during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper addresses how and why social restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic have affected people’s experiences of grief. To do so, I adopt a broadly phenomenological approach, one that emphasizes how our experiences, thoughts, and activities are shaped by relations with other people. Drawing on first-person accounts of grief during the pandemic, I identify two principal (and overlapping) themes: (a) deprivation and disruption of interpersonal processes that play important roles in comprehending and adapting to bereavement; (b) disturbance of an experiential world in the context of which loss is more usually recognized and negotiated. The combination, I suggest, can amount to a sort of “grief within grief”, involving a sense of stasis consistent with clinical descriptions of prolonged grief disorder.

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