We are all experiencing collective loss and grief because of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that we are experiencing the same loss or grieving the same way. Losses can be unique to individuals, such as the death of a loved one or divorce from a spouse. They can also be more universal, such as the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. However, both of these types of losses are generally associated with a distinct event that has a known beginning and endpoint. What makes the losses related to the coronavirus so different is that there is not a known expiration date. This lack of certainty about when the losses caused by the pandemic will end makes it difficult to process and mourn appropriately.

Most married couples vowed to stay with their partners during sickness and health, but none of us vowed to remain trapped with our loved ones behind the same four walls, all day, every day, for an unknown period of time. We didn’t sign up for this! Some romantics may be titillated by the prospect, while more independent partners may panic at the mere thought of spending all day and night with their loved ones.

Because of the swift implementation of the lifestyle-altering restrictions, couples did not have ample time to mentally and physically prepare. A lack of preparation and loss of control heightens our emotions. It can make couples more susceptible to engage in unhealthy styles of communication and destructive behaviors that are harmful to their relationships.