As we emerge on the other side of the COVID-19 global pandemic, grief is becoming evident. Just above the masks are eyes filled with grief and sorrow. Many are grieving the death of loved ones. Globally, there have been 2.68 million COVID-related deaths as of today. In my little state, there have been almost 8,000. Nearly everyone has lost or knows someone who has lost, a family or friend during this pandemic. Many are mourning because of the inability to have been with a loved one when they died or to gather for a funeral. Others are grieving the loss of marriage (divorces skyrocketed), and still others the loss of a job. Lesser recognized grief includes the loss of social opportunities, the loss of routine, and the loss of connectedness. Like so many, the pandemic has created multiple losses for me too, and I grieve those losses.
Recognizing Your Grief Maybe you are feeling anxious, angry, depressed, hopeless, or distressed. Maybe you just can't pinpoint what you're feeling, or why you are feeling the way you do. Chances are, your soul is grieving, as are millions of others as a result of the pandemic.
Does God Care About Your Pain? Yes, He does. He is the Father of Compassion and the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3). We know the ultimate plan of God is for there to be no more sorrow, no more tears. (Rev. 21:4) The time of that fulfillment has not yet come and because we live in a 'fallen world, we will experience all manner of trials and struggles in this life. Still, God is with us and cares about our every sorrow.
You Are Not Alone in Your Grief
We are facing this together. We are all feeling levels of grief and loss. It is important for you to know you are not alone in your pain and hurt. God wants to talk with you and have you pour out your heart to him (Psalm 62:8). He knows your grief. He's experienced the death of a loved one too (His son, Jesus). Consider Jesus. He knows what it is like to experience the loss of friends and loved ones. He knows what it is like to have housing insecurities, not knowing from day to day where He would sleep. He is with you and understands.
Grief Amplified by Isolation Grieving the loss of a loved one or of any type is difficult, but is being amplified because of isolation during the pandemic. In many cases, loved ones have been separated for months. Friends who would be typical supports for one another are not gathering to give hugs and pray with one another. Loneliness is an outcome of isolation.
If you are still in isolation, I urge you to find ways to safely gather with family and friends. Connecting online or on the phone or only being in the vicinity of people (e.g. at a store) is not nearly as effective as making a face-to-face human connection. Not comfortable hugging yet? That's ok. Just spend some time actively engaged in chatting with another person. You'd be surprised what an afternoon spent talking and lingering over coffee will do for the soul.
There Is Hope & Healing Available
Grief is a proper response to the loss you have experienced. No one is born knowing how to walk through grief. We are created needing each other. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NLT) says "When one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone falls alone in real trouble". We are meant to do life together.
Sometimes talking with a friend or family member is enough to get you through the period of bereavement, but sometimes an expert is helpful in gaining perspective and working through the process with you. There are a variety of ways to connect to Pastoral Care at a local church or to a grief counselor in the community. Finding a person who can walk with you on your journey through grief and loss is important.
One national resource is GriefShare. Our church, like many others, offers a GriefShare ministry for those who have lost a loved one. Both virtual and in-person options are offered across the country. Ours continues to meet virtually for now. Other locations are meeting in person once again. If interested in browsing meetings and resources GriefShare offers, the link to the national website is https://www.griefshare.org/ . I pray you recognize the grief you are feeling and allow yourself to process through it. We are coming out of this pandemic and it is possible to be strong and healed in your spirit, so you can move forward into the next chapter of life.