If all had gone according to plan, my daughter, Nicole, would graduate from law school this month after three challenging years of study. Needless to say, she finds the postponement of her commencement quite disappointing and has experienced a myriad of reactions to the change in plans caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the years, I have come to understand and respect the power of grief. In this case, the grieving process is associated with having a much-different senior year of high school, college, or final year of graduate school (business school, law school, dental school, medical school, etc.) than anticipated.
Grief is defined as, “The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job). To this list, I am adding the loss of a traditional commencement process where family and friends join you in celebrating your outstanding accomplishment. Emotional reactions of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness, and despair. And, quite importantly, grief has no time limit; for some it is a matter of days or weeks, for others it takes years, and sometimes we simply never stop grieving a particular loss.
This video from The Lily’s Nicole Ellis addresses how to manage the emotional letdown for the graduate, but is also relevant for parents, family, and friends as well.