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MLA Ron Orr: Grieving pandemic loss


The end of February marks one year since the impact of the COVID-19 virus began to concern Albertans. Reflecting on this past year, it’s fair to say we have experienced collective grief like no other in the last century, with all corners of the globe impacted by COVID, a worldwide economic downturn, and in Alberta, the deeply felt impact of a collapse in oil prices.

Grief and sorrow express themselves in so many ways: denial, anger, desperate bargaining, depression. Sometimes these stressors can lead even the most level-headed person to irrational thinking, family violence, drug or alcohol abuse and tragically, in some cases, suicide.

We have passed 20,000 deaths in Canada due to COVID-19, approaching 2,000 in Alberta alone. For those who have lost a family member to the virus or other causes, the sorrow can be unimaginable.

There are other losses Albertans are struggling with too. The loss of family support and connection, the loss of jobs, the loss of homes or savings, the loss of freedoms, the loss of feeling safe, the loss of sacred rituals, the loss of sports and community. Loss itself is often easy to recognize; recognizing the resulting grief is not often so easy.

A recent article about the need for a national strategy to cope with loss beyond the pandemic drew attention to just how pertinent that need truly is. The author Susan Cadell, University of Waterloo, said, “I am concerned that we are not very good at the compassion toward ourselves and others that is required in grief.”

I believe we need to take a moment, as a society, to recognize the ways in which our friends and neighbours might be feeling. We need to be kind and considerate of those who are grieving, whatever their losses might be. I suspect all of us, in some way, are trying to cope with losing something we have experienced. What is your loss?

The final stage on the road to recovering from loss and grief involves some kind of acceptance. Acceptance that it happened – whatever ‘it’ is for you.

Everyone will grieve in their own way and for different reasons. But, I suggest to all that if you are showing the symptoms of grief, you are probably suffering from the affliction. Recognizing and facing your grief will help in processing it and allow you to reach out for support.

Albertans are resilient. The pandemic will soon fade into history, and we will move on, albeit with scars. Let us work together to get there, and we will come out stronger because we are together.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any issue, feel free to contact my constituency office at 403 782 7725 or by e-mail at or by mail 101, 4892 46 Street, Lacombe, AB T4L 2B4.