Covid-19 restrictions make grieving more difficult. Here are expert-backed tips for supporting people through the death of a loved one

Illustration: Jo Zixuan Zhou

In early August, I was driving from one Georgia suburb to another to attend a restricted, masked funeral for my best friend’s father — if you can call it a funeral at all. He was immunocompromised and died of Covid-19. At the service, his body was covered with a white sheet and sparse flower arrangements. My friend and her mother sat alone in the front of the state room, facing the body. They wore masks, shields, and gloves. As is customary in my friend’s Hindu culture, both mother and daughter dressed in all white.

There was no holding, no hugging…

With a little help from his own words and actions

doodlesbyfiza.com

This was originally published on fiza.substack.com.

We lost another Civil Rights giant late last week, and I’m having a hard time moving past this initial stage of mourning. I awake and want to curl up and weep and scream, my anger directed at time and disease and all of the historical injustices that may have given his health and his cancer an edge.

An Atlanta without John Lewis doesn’t quite feel as warm and gentle; it doesn’t feel as reaffirming or protected. They called him the conscience of Congress for his relentless adherence to the highest ethical standards, an essence…

Finding humility in anti-racist work

Jemma Morris, LouLouArtStudio

Excerpted from Issue 17 of Foreign Bodies. Read in full here.

“I’m not welcoming these calls,” Neal Lester, a Black professor at Arizona State University known for his extensive knowledge on race and society, told his third caller that morning, a white columnist at The Arizona Republic searching for some insight on how to best address racism within her community.

“I have no wisdom. I have pain, hurt and anger,” Lester told her. Karina Bland could tell he was tired, “tired of talking about race, of saying the same thing every time this happens. He’s tired of answering the questions.”

The first great millennial novelist (or something like that)

This was originally published on fiza.substack.com.

In 2015, The Guardian’s Justine Jordan wrote about a new Irish literary boom dominated by women writers attuned to the more dynamic and radical. The feature named the likes of Kevin Barry (City of Bohane), Eimear McBride (A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing) and Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither) among others as leaders of the new wave-maker generation.

Two years later, at 26, Sally Rooney of Castlebar, now considered “the first great millennial novelist,” made her own debut with Conversations With Friends. The novel follows two Irish college-aged schoolmates, both of whom get…

An ode to Afrofuturism

Illustrated by doodlesbyfiza.com

This was originally published on fiza.substack.com.

The latest issue of Bitch Media’s quarterly print publication begins with editor-in-chief Evette Dionne’s short ode to the Harry Potter series, a head-shake to the problematic author behind it all and a dedication to fill the subsequent pages with affirming, transcendental stories that empower women — especially black women — to invest in the fantastic.

But the fantastic has less to do with wands and magic, says Dionne, and more to do with revolutionary sustainable fashion or the obliteration of our current prison systems for more transformative rehabilitation. …

The winds will carry me and I will ache for morning again

It started with a promise to embrace the unpredictable. A promise to relinquish control and trust that the weather might carry me through the wind or push me back to shore or spin me in circles, but eventually, at storm’s end, it will ease me down on my two feet once again.

My favorite new beginning — it began with a risk succeeding an almost-finale to life. It began with my decision to quit my last job.

I remember walking into the newsroom one day, my eyes and throat a glance, a touch away from tears and quivers. I remember…

A touch of warmth during a cryptic time

If all feels overcast and all you see is gloom, might I suggest a minute under the sun?

I have been tethered to my bed, to this house for about a month now and the sun, which has admittedly kept its distance for much of February and March, has still managed to nourish me even on its shyest days.

Under the sun, I’ve breathed deeply without my head in my lungs, instructing the best inhale and exhale technique for stress relief, for pain relief. The breaths are instead instinctual, helplessly aroused by the taste of sunlight.

My body, which has…

When news breaks, I am called to perform, inform, report, write. But it’s an itch I’m hardly scratching.

I’m no longer part of a newsroom, but loved ones (and friends of friends) have been coming to me with pandemic needs and questions and requests for coverage. A nurse with an aging, immunocompromised father at home; medical students and vacationers stranded abroad as borders close; patients with symptoms unable to get tested.

It’s understandable, especially if I’m the only acquaintance they know with any connection at all to a megaphone. I don’t know how to tell them there’s little I can do aside from a message or email to staff reporters in the middle of it all. I’ve pitched…

Where my head’s at amid the coronavirus pandemic

Can you get away from the noise for a bit? Find somewhere quiet, even if it means drawing a second bath or locking yourself in the bedroom closet? Just somewhere to decompress, put your body at ease as your mind inevitably wanders?

Remember, if you’re feeling a sense of panic or anxiety or hopelessness right now and it’s all a bit more heightened than usual, that’s completely normal and expected. We — those of us with diagnosed mental illnesses — are simply more likely to react strongly to crisis. …

On bridges, breaths and sitting up to write again

Tuck from the core, hold, then lift into bridge; don’t let the thighs, the back, the torso do the work. PAIN. Use your core, Fiza. Breathe, bridge. PAIN. Breathe in, Fiza. Then breathe out. Breathe in. Tuck from the core. Breathe out, and lift from the core. Lower the bridge. Breathe in, tuck, breathe out, lift, then lower. Repeat. Breathe in, out, bridge and lower. In, out, bridge and lower. It doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt. Look what a breath can do.

I’ve been in physical therapy with Nicky for two weeks now for my tailbone nerve flare-ups, a chronic…

Fiza Pirani

Atlanta-based writer/editor and bibliophile. Founder of immigrant and refugee mental health newsletter, Foreign Bodies. Join: foreignbodies.net 💌

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