I’m Grieving during the Pandemic. How about You?
May 18, 2020 by Pastor Bob Huisman
The other day I was feeling frustrated and confused and foolish all at the same time. I was angry about the effects of the pandemic on the church, people, relationships, perspectives, behaviors, and on and on and on. The “red light” on my emotional dashboard was going off and causing me to question myself.
In a moment of self-reflection, I asked myself, “Who are you angry at?” or “With whom are you angry”. (Having to correct my own grammar in my mind to remove the dangling preposition did not make me any less angry.) And the answer was “the coronavirus”.
That answer made me feel even more foolish – I’m not even sure what I was feeling. “How can I be angry at a virus?” I asked myself. “I’m messed up”, I thought to myself.
Fortunately, a little while later, God was gracious and helped to clarify my thinking and my feelings.
My daughter suggested that navigating the effects of the pandemic is a lot like going through the stages of grief. “Of course, it is”, I thought to myself. “She’s right!” I have had that thought many times before. I’ve talked with others about it before. I’ve probably even preached about it already. It all made sense in my mind. People are losing their lives. People are losing their livelihoods. All kinds of end of the school year celebrations – lost. Final opportunities for seniors – lost. Graduations and weddings altered, postponed, changed. With so much loss, it makes sense that people are grieving. And of course, there are so many of the other griefs of life that keep occurring in addition to the griefs caused by the pandemic. Grief is everywhere.
If I knew all this already, what was “the light” that went on? The new discovery for me was that in that moment I realized that there is a big difference between acknowledging that…
“people are grieving” and admitting that “I’m grieving.”
I’m grieving….and probably you are too.
At one level or another, I believe we all are.
After a quick inventory of my emotions, I could see a parallel with the stages of grief (shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance). Unfortunately, grief is not like a mathematical equation where you have a clear start and steps to the finish. With grief, one often returns multiple times to the stages through which they have already passed or experienced. In fact, it is not uncommon to go round and round through the first few stages of grief for quite some time.
I’m grieving and probably you are too. What does that mean for us? What do we need when we are grieving? We all need GRACE.
God’s grace and the grace of one another.
We need the comfort of God that He promises to deliver through His Holy Spirit. We need the grace of another, which we often experience through the love of one another. The joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness of one another. When someone experiences a loss, we are gentle with them. We need God’s Spirit to touch our hearts and we need the fruit of God’s Spirit that is delivered through another person. We need GRACE. God’s grace.
May God grant us His grace and enable us to extend grace to one another and the world around us – even while we are experiencing our own grief and loss.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Heavenly Father pour out your love and grace upon us in order that we might be ministers of mercy to one another. In Jesus’ name, Amen.