For National Volunteer Week, we’re highlighting the incredible work of our volunteers. We’ll be showcasing short interviews with our volunteer grief workers to share their wisdom and express our gratitude for their commitment to supporting pandemic grievers.
Name: Kimberly Malone
Location: Mahwah, NJ
Profession: Spiritual Director
Why do you volunteer with COVID Grief Network (CGN)?
I was 20 years old when my father passed away suddenly in an accident. It was hard trailblazing this kind of grief and loss among my peers. My friends didn’t always know what to say or how to respond, and my family was also grieving. After the initial shock I was longing for a non-judgemental space to sort out what I was thinking and feeling. I’m grateful to be able to offer this to other young people who are navigating their own unique experiences of loss and grief.
What has supporting young adults in our network taught you?
My conversations with the young adults in the COVID Grief Network have pressed upon me the devastating impact of COVID-19. For some people this pandemic feels distant, harmless, or unbelievable, but it is not any of those things for the people who have lost a loved one. Every young person I’ve met with has tried to put to words the added trauma of co-workers, friends, and strangers minimizing the pandemic.
Do you have a message for young adults in grief?
Grief is so strange. All of a sudden it’s like you’re in an alternate reality where time functions differently, priorities instantly change, routine tasks become exhausting, and your head fills with a fog and a movie projector with specific moments and conversations on loop. I think every young person I’ve talked to has marveled at some point, “I don’t feel like myself.” The worst is not knowing how long it will last or if this is a new reality.
Like many of the young people I have had the opportunity to talk with, I didn’t choose grief. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to figure it out. I preferred feeling like I was capable, confident, and in control. Grief felt too disorienting. At the time I wasn’t curious or open to feeling pain, I was more focused on getting through it as fast as I could.
Losing my dad was one of my first significant experiences of grief, but I’ve had others since then. I’m grateful that grief is more familiar now. I can recognize it, in myself and in others, and I’m not so scared of it anymore. I can see that every experience of grief comes with an invitation to pause, feel, and discover. Each loss offers the opportunity to learn more about grieving, something you will need to do over and over again if you invest in others, take bold risks, and love deeply.
What’s your preferred method of self-care?
Lately, my preferred method of self care has been a regular morning swim. I love the pause before the day starts, the quiet, the rhythm of the strokes, the focused breathing, feeling my muscles move, and the space to work things out, pray, or not think of anything at all.
Are you interested in volunteering with the COVID Grief Network? Learn more and apply here.