Feelings of Grief
See Tips for dealing with grief and helping others at the end of this reflection.
This COVID crisis has left many of us with a felling of grief. This is grief that may not be from the loss of a loved one, which is particularly hard in this situation, but there is other grief as well.
We experience grief over loss of work, disconnection from family and friends, uncertainty, and change. Yes, we may be experiencing grief over the knowledge that our lives are in the midst of change. Things we have grown accustomed to may not return to our lives in the same way.
Work will be different—teachers will be facing new conditions, some people will be working from home and some will return to workplaces that look and feel significantly different.
Church will be different—gatherings will be smaller at first, distance will be observed when all we want to do is hug, some people will have to stay away for health reasons, there will not be singing for a while (! What? Yes, unfortunately.) and the way worship is shared will be expanded and different.
All these things, and more, contribute to a sense of grief, uncertainty, and anxiety.
I want you to know that this is normal. We should feel sorrow. Acknowledge it. Do not deny, run, hide, or cover it with smiles you do not feel. Talk about how you really feel. Tell yourself, tell God, tell a friend or family member. There is no shame in sorrow and lament.
Lament helps us to recognize who God is, what God might be doing; recognized ourselves, our weaknesses, and questions; and recognize God’s preferred outcome for this our lives, for this world.
So, we have hope. Yes, hope and expectation. You may have to wait to see it, but it is, nevertheless, present, and real.
We are navigating through an unknown valley. Our great shepherd, Jesus, knows the way and leads us through. Remember Psalm 23! I have always said this psalm is about life, not death. The words truly reflect our lives today. May these words sustain you, because “surely goodness and mercy” will follow.
God is doing a new thing—what it may be, we do not fully see, but we can ans do trust God to lead us in the way. There will be “joy in the morning.”
The following tips are from a psychologist regarding grief from the loss of a loved one, but I think they are transferable to all forms or grief.
And remember, we are standing together, in Christ, shoulder-to-shoulder.
Tips when you are grieving
1. Listen to your soul and do what’s healthy for you. That may mean getting out in nature, taking a hot bath, reading favorite Bible verses.
2. Assemble a group who will accompany you through the grieving process. Identify your loved ones who will be happy to talk to you at 3 a.m. or the one who is OK to sit on the phone in silence for a long time, if needed. Find people who don’t mind if you call them several times in the same day.
3. Hug the one you’re with, even if that’s a pet. An embrace is crucial during times of grief. For people who live alone, pets can offer affection. But don’t hesitate to use tangible items, such as stuffed animals that hold sentimental meaning or a weighted blanket or quilt. It doesn’t change the state of affairs but it may be physically soothing.
4. Take advantage of technologies to stay connected. Use your phone, tablet, computer to talk, text, video chat with others.
5. Take your time to grieve. The normal pattern of grief is usually thought of in terms of two years as a starting point, the first year will be most acute.
Tips for helping a loved one or friend who is grieving
1. Be there. Create a space for a person to talk and process. Presence is profoundly underestimated, and advice is overestimated. And in the age of COVID-19, that will mean from afar.
2. Drop off a meal, send a restaurant gift card.
3. Mail cards or letters to remind the one grieving that others care.
4. Make the call. If you know the person well, you may coordinate calling among a close group of friends so that everyone is taking a turn.
5. Remember. Put a reminder in your calendar marking the six-month anniversary of the loved one’s death. Reaching out months later is important because grieving continues even as time passes and a new normalcy forms.
In community, the effects of grief and this isolation will continue. Let us give each other time, space, and our best care!