Collective Grief

Some grief and loss is individual, and some losses are felt collectively as a community or even a nation. Connection is sometimes easier to achieve when we experience a collective loss, although only if people are willing to talk openly about it.

Community Loss

Loss can affect people on an individual level and/or at a community level. Loss can deeply impact a community when we experience a collective loss.

In community losses, there is a need for the community to come together to process pain collectively.

For Reflection

Have you been a part of a community that has experienced a loss? How did people support each other?

Traumatic National and Global Events

In addition to the collective losses listed above, we also experience national or global events that are traumatizing. Natural disasters can also bring collective loss.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission existed with the purpose of acknowledging the truth of Canada’s terrible history through the sharing of people’s stories and experiences. The goal of the Commission was to support the ongoing need to tell and hear the truth about the horrible acts of colonization to support the creation of opportunities for reconciliation. Acknowledging the pain that was caused is always the first step in any reconciliation process.

The peer support movement also began as an opportunity for people to come together to grieve and support others who had experienced the same systemic oppression. Those early gatherings were the birth of a movement that has essentially made this training and work possible.

In her book See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (2020), Valarie Kaur talks about collective grief regarding the events of September 11th, and the aftermath of racist attacks that followed:

We come to know people when we grieve with them through stories and rituals. It is how we can build real solidarity, the kind that points us to the world we want to live in—and our role in fighting for it….America’s greatest social movements—for civil rights, immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, union organizing, queer and trans rights, farmworkers’ rights, Indigenous sovereignty, and Black lives—were rooted in the solidarity that came from shared grieving. First people grieved together. Then they organized together…When people who have no obvious reason to love each other come together to grieve, they can give birth to new relationships, even revolutions. (Kaur 2020)


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Post-Secondary Peer Support Training Curriculum Copyright © 2022 by Jenn Cusick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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