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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Many of us lost family members and friends during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mourning the loss of a friend is never easy, and it became all the more difficult during the recent pandemic with the unique circumstances people found themselves in. In What Our Friend Left Behind: Grief and Laughter in a Pandemic, Victoria Noe shares her own experiences since the advent of the pandemic, which cost the lives of many of her friends -- with a couple of them already suffering from terminal diseases -- and explores the impact of the deadly COVID-19 virus on relationships and society at large. The pandemic forced people to abandon regular mourning rituals, overwhelmed healthcare workers, and put the lives of at-risk populations in grave danger. Social media platforms became the new town squares, while divisive politics and misinformation threatened to destroy the fabric of American society.
Victoria Noe sheds light on the striking similarities between the COVID-19 pandemic and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in its early years, with the respective governments of both times choosing to ignore the advice of experts and medical professionals, putting vulnerable sections of the populace at even more risk. This book provides a moving encapsulation of the pandemic's effect on people, showcasing ways to mourn the friends that many of us lost along the way. Noe shares her own experiences with grief, anxiety, and stress during this period, losing childhood friends and struggling to mourn properly due to extraordinary circumstances, and discovering new ways to honor those who passed away. What Our Friends Left Behind is a deeply personal yet universal account of loss and grief that explores commemorating departed friends in this modern era of social media and an increasingly divided society. Highly recommended.