Learning from Loss


I think we can all admit that things were better when we were not required to have most of our interactions behind a screen. Today, however, I’m truly convinced that our online interactions during this time really matter and that we are missing so much when we wait to connect until things are ‘normal’ again.

Last week, I was informed that one of the students in my program had passed away. Because of Corona, Claudia and I only met a couple of times through MS Teams. Initially, I was reaching out to her as an academic advisor, inquiring about study progress. But in our meetings together, I learned more about Claudia as a person.

I was impressed by her kindness and determination. I was able to see her smile on more than one occasion. For someone I had only met virtually, I don’t think the heartbreak was any less than if we had met in real life. My thoughts and prayers immediately went to her friends, housemates, colleagues and of course, her family. 

I saw the university community come together in remembering Claudia - both on-campus and online. I am so glad that arrangements were made so that Claudia could be remembered on campus. I saw how valuable it was for everyone there: it was a space with people connecting with each other, caring for each other as they tried to deal with the terrible loss in their worlds and in the world.

I’m also glad that there was an online space made available for those who couldn’t attend on campus. It was clear that even though not everyone could be there in person, a space was still needed to process the loss together and a virtual space was better than none at all.

When something like this happens, the world seems really cruel and unfair. There is no answer or explanation that makes it okay. But I know for sure there are always lessons in good times and in bad. For me, the lesson is to keep connecting with my students, colleagues, friends and family. In times of Corona, it isn’t perfect, but I can always do the best I can with what I have. And it’s clear now that waiting until things are ‘normal’ again isn’t an option because I don’t want to bear the pain of being too late.

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