On the plus side, Denckla acknowledged that technology combined with creativity has provided an alternate outlet for many. Facebook posts about lost loved ones give friends and relatives a chance to express grief and support, while Zoom gatherings provide a way to be with each other, even if not in the same room.

Denckla said hospital clergy in some cases have donned protective gear and allowed loved ones to connect via video with dying loved ones when pandemic rules prohibit in-person visits. What is unknown, Denckla said, is how effective a substitute these digital practices are and whether they can help mitigate potential problems in the future.

Another hopeful development, she said, is the attention the pandemic has brought to the issue of mourning. With loss on such a scale, an issue that is often skirted in public discourse has been brought more centrally into the spotlight, with one organization proposing a White House office on bereavement care, another a bereavement bill of rights that allows relatives to see a body and details that the body be treated with respect. And yet all is not dour.

“What we’ve learned is that we are surprisingly resilient,” Denckla. “What I’m inspired by now is the collective conversation about the importance of grief, about the rights of the bereaved, about transforming social policy around loss and support, which can go a long way to reducing inequity.”