Your reflections on a year filled with loss. 
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Host Anna Sale and the logos for Death, Sex & Money and WNYC Studios, all on a beige background.

Our episode this week, in the words of Shakespeare, seeks to “give sorrow words.” 

For much of this year, we’ve been privately absorbing its shocks and difficulties on our own. So we wanted to gather together, in the way that we can, to mark the losses in the Death, Sex & Money community. We asked what 2020 has taken from you, and you told us a lot: Friendships. Fertility treatments. Faith in your workplace. Time. And, of course, loved ones. Some of these losses were because of the pandemic, and some just happened alongside it. You’ll also hear some music from John Prine, and his wife’s reflections on what she misses with him gone. 

Together, we’re looking right at the pain of this year. 

After you listen, let me suggest, take a minute and think about your own life, and reach out to someone you love. Talk together about what this year has taken from both of you, and how you might help each other as you move into a new year. That was the message of a grief researcher in an interview on NPR this week. “My best advice would be to connect,” psychologist Christy Denckla told All Things Considered. “There are aspects of grieving that are done alone, but there are also aspects of grieving that are done in community and groups. And we must connect.” 

She said we don’t yet know how we’ll be changed by going through so much loss without access to grieving rituals like conventional funerals. But what we can do is to step toward that loss and do what we can to support each other one-on-one.

—Anna and the Death, Sex & Money team
This Week on Death, Sex & Money
A drawing of a short haired person wearing all black dropping dates from a calendar into a puddle of water. The puddle says 2020, with the numbers upside down and facing the person.

When we asked you about what 2020 has taken from you, you told us about jobs, travel opportunities, relationships, irreplaceable moments. Physical objects and feelings. Milestones and loved ones. 

Today, we're taking some time to sit with those losses, mark them, and reflect on all that has been taken from us this year. Listen in your feeds now.

Your Support Really Matters
As we heard from so many of our listeners in today's new episode, this was a year of tremendous loss. That's why we felt it was so important for us to show up for you and be with you this year, as we were all going through big life changes and the grief that's come with those. We made more episodes this year than ever before. 

This year has also brought a lot of changes to our home station, WNYC. There's less money coming in, as many of our media sponsors have also taken big hits this year. So if you're considering making year-end donations, we hope you'll give to Death, Sex & Money. If this community has brought you comfort this year; if you've heard stories that gave you new perspective; if you had an unexpected laugh—we hope you'll chip in. Every donation makes a difference. Thank you so much. 
Make your donation to Death, Sex & Money today
Your Stories: An American in Paris with "Pod Resentment"
We heard from quite a few of you about how moved you were by the love story in last week's episode. But for some of you, the other side of our collaboration with NPR's It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders also resonated. And for a listener named Emma, who moved to Paris from Washington, D.C. at the beginning of the year, both stories felt relatable.
"I said goodbye to my boyfriend on January 26th thinking I would see him in mid-March. The day he was set to fly to Paris, POTUS shut the border with Europe. Because of border closings, my boyfriend hasn’t been able to come to Paris since. In early August after six months apart, I was able to fly home and spent a month with him. Since I am American and an EU resident, I can cross the closed border. In late October, France went into lockdown again. I decided to fly home and spend that time with my boyfriend. 

However, this email isn’t about my boyfriend. It’s about pod fatigue and worse, pod resentment. I have a group of American girlfriends in Paris, and they have kept me afloat since the onset of the pandemic in the West and I am so grateful for them. However, as COVID is getting worse everywhere and especially in the U.S., and it’s the holidays, even though I am visiting my boyfriend in the U.S., I have made the decision to not see my parents or anyone in my family. It has been a really tough decision especially since, like many people, I don’t know when I will see them again. However, I know this is the right decision. Not just on a personal level as my parents are older, but as a duty to my country where things are so out of hand. I feel like by limiting my visit to only one person and no one else I am doing my small part. My American girlfriends in Paris are making different choices. 

First, they all have romantic partners in France whose families they could spend the holiday with or they could just stay in Paris and be with the person they love. Instead, they are all making what I consider an irresponsible decision: to fly home and see their families in spite of surging cases in the U.S. I understand it is a personal decision but I feel like they, and people who feel the rules don’t apply to them, are partly responsible for how bad COVID has gotten. It seems like those people are only thinking about themselves and their needs. These same friends also went traveling around Europe this summer, and we know now that’s part of the reason COVID got worse in Europe again. I felt resentful of my friends and all the other people that travelled for fun this summer, and I feel resentful of them now for going to see their families when things are so dire. It might seem hypocritical of me since I have flown twice to see my boyfriend. However, I don’t believe these are the same things. Flying to be with a young, healthy romantic partner with whom one has been separated for months on end is  much more essential than going to see parents, siblings, in-laws, etc. or traveling for the fun of it. 

I don’t want to judge my friends, or shame them. But in my head I definitely am. With resentments piling up, I find myself being close to wishing ill on some of these people (which is awful) just to know in the end that I did the right thing and they did the wrong thing. I hate feeling this way because of course I don’t want anything bad to happen, but I don’t know how to move past this especially when I know people traveling for the holidays is going to cause a surge on top of a surge on top of a surge in the U.S. 

I know I’m not the only person who is struggling with this issue and if you have any advice, from yourselves or your other listeners, I’d love to hear it. COVID sucks and I can’t wait for us to turn the corner and be able to safely be with the people we love again."

—Emma, 27, Paris

Listen to This: Audio We Love

The NPR logo in the top right corner on a black square. The words Fresh Air are in black letters on a light blue and a dark blue background, with WHYY in light blue below it.
A white square with the words, "Sylvan Esso Shaking Out The Numb" in blue capital letters centered at the top of the square. A cropped rectangular photo of a white man with a beard and mustache and a white woman with bangs as they look away from the camera is on top of a brushmark of blue.

I pressed “play” on Hugh Grant on Fresh Air to have some '90s-inspired celebrity candy for my ears, and really appreciated all the places this interview took me. He talks at length about his detective work that shamed the British tabloids for their most reprehensible tactics, the craft of moving between charm and evil as a performer, and how his sudden fame froze parts of him in time. He tells Terry he’s actually talking to her from the flat where he lived pre-fame—he’s hung on to it as a private refuge. (Skip the first 10 minutes if you don’t want to hear any spoilers about his latest series, The Undoing.)

And Katie can't help but jump in to recommend the podcast that her favorite band, Sylvan Esso, put out with their newest album, Free Love. Created by producer Erica Heilman (who also makes the Rumble Strip Vermont podcast that we’ve shouted out here before), Shaking Out the Numb is a six-episode collage of vivid memories, stories and reflections from the band. Start with the episode “Party” to be reminded of a) college and b) parties.

"Your podcast is the only one I listen to faithfully. It connects me with the rest of the world, reminds me of all the good there is, and makes me laugh. It makes me a better person and Anna a friend."
—Emily, Tennessee

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