Seasons of Love: A Covid Tribute
When I was fearing for my life in a COVID ER unit, I never imagined that a year later I’d be gathering Broadway performers, young adults bereaved by COVID-19, and home videos of those they lost. But this year has been full of wild surprises.
While I’d struggled with long haul symptoms for over a year, I knew I was one of the lucky ones. Grappling with a combination of survivors’ guilt and helplessness, I wanted to do something to support those who weren’t so fortunate.
When I came across the COVID Grief Network (CGN), a 100% volunteer-run emergency mutual aid network connecting folks in their 20s and 30s who have lost a loved one to Covid to free one-to-one and group support, I knew this was the way.
Our network was started by people in their 20s and 30s who experienced big losses in their own lives, and also knew how powerful it can be to gather with peers who’ve been through the same thing. When the pandemic started, we knew we had to mobilize to make sure people losing friends and family to COVID-19 weren’t left to grieve alone.
Since we opened our (virtual) doors a year ago, we’ve provided close to 1,000 free one-on-one grief support sessions for young adults across 40 states and 17 countries, and have recently launched our first ten virtual peer support groups.
As the United States begins to unmask and reopen, millions still face isolation, grief, and trauma. For those who’ve lost loved ones to the virus, there is no “going back to normal” and their grief can feel unseen. Now, more than ever, we need to show up for each other. Honoring those we’ve lost and supporting those left behind is key to addressing the rising grief crisis.
On May 13, we released a Seasons of Love video featuring members of the final Broadway cast of RENT, young adults in our community, and home videos of those they’ve lost.
As part of MTV’s Mental Health Action Day, on Thursday, May 20 at 4pm PT/7pm ET, CGN is co-hosting a free digital screening followed by powerful conversation with the RENT cast, CGN members, and organizers on navigating the unique challenges of COVID-19 grief. Co-hosted with the End of Life Collective, it is free to register. CGN is also accepting donations for the first time to help scale and support their work in this critical moment.
Of the many parallels between the current pandemic and the AIDS crisis, Broadway cast member Adam Kantor says: “It’s a song that carries all of it. There is grief underneath it all, and even more importantly, celebration of life. It is very cathartic, to be held and acknowledged by community through the ups and downs. I can’t think of a song that does that more simply and beautifully than Seasons of Love.”
Copyright © 2021 Charly Jaffe
Charly Jaffe is a producer, crisis counselor and best-selling author on a mission to help others replace shame and isolation with connection and empowerment. An award-winning Google changemaker and organizer of the COVID Grief Network, she operates at the intersection of mental health, education and storytelling. Her work has been featured on the BBC and The Washington Post, Charly is also the co-producer and co-creative director of the PAUSE Series from Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, Emmy Award Winner Adam Kantor and OneTable. She received a BSFS in International Politics from Georgetown University and an MA in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Columbia University.