Grief and Covid
Another friend died of covid. UGH! He was healthy, “young”, a dad and a great husband. This is not supposed to be like this!
I feel like I focus way too much on loss and grief. Perhaps that makes me a negative person, but I figure if you don’t care to read my thoughts – whatever they are – you can avoid this blog, unfollow me on Instagram and unfriend me on Facebook. Anyway, for those who want to read on, consider yourself warned by the title of this post and this preface!
Additionally, Covid is not political. It is a worldwide pandemic. Whatever you feel about Covid 19 and no matter how “tired”of it you are, there are still people who are dying from it and they are not all old, nor do they all have pre-existing conditions. They are not all Americans. Some are vaccinated and some are not. It does not matter to me – what does matter is all the people I know who are grieving and missing their person. I get it that cancer is a deadly disease but I really cannot fathom the depths of despair that dying from a “cold” invokes. It is too hard to process!
At this point as we are in the 3rd year of this pandemic, I do not know anyone who has not suffered loss as a result. I lost out on family gatherings, smiles, hugs, in-person relationships. My kids lost jobs – more than once. We have lost out on weddings, funerals, trips and graduations. I have friends who have lost parents, siblings, spouses. There is a collective anxiety and sadness, but there is also so much more than that added to this “season”. I guess I do not understand the anger, the caustic rhetoric and hatefulness from seemingly every direction. Isolation is hard but I guess I would rather be isolated than deal with such vitriol. I am sad when I hear people belittling others, vilifying those who make a different choice for their health or family, dishonoring the Lord by disobedience to those in authority, demonizing whole groups of people. I am sad that we all have become even more selfish and myopic in our isolation. We were made for community and yet we seem to be caring only for our own comfort, leisure and “freedom” over the needs and health of our “neighbors”. Is this how we love our neighbor? Is this what it means to put the needs of others first? Is this how we become the hands and feet of Jesus? I wish we could all learn instead how to take better care of each other with each other.
There is a difference between between being sad and grieving. Sadness is an emotion felt in episodes(think of Pixar’s Inside Out). We cry and in our distress we tell others and that elicits their compassion. After the episode, we regroup, recalibrate and gain clarity as we let the loss sink in. The sadness dissipates and other emotions step up to balance and add perspective. Emotions that “overstay” their welcome are moods.
Grief, on the other hand, is multiple feelings, emotions and moods that include sadness, anger, confusion and more. It is a long process with ebbs and flows. The bigger the loss, the larger the hole in our life and the longer we grieve. Grief doesn’t have triggers that can be avoided. It is the overwhelming force that pushes us toward hope while it also pins us down. The thing I have learned from it is hopeful resilience and gratitude. Acceptance is not the end of grief, heaven is. Also, I have found that loss is turning into wisdom that helps me make better sense of the world and continues to direct me into the future with its challenges (and future griefs).
We were made for relationships. Life was not meant to be lived in a vacuum, on an island (unless that island is tropical like Barbados – JK), or alone. We are not made to be self-sufficient or independent. As Christ followers we are given 57 “one-anothers” by Paul that are really examples and instructions on how to live like family, in community and as family of the King. Covid has made all the actions and all the feelings so sterile because we do them alone. Yes grief is solitary but the irony of covid is that while we all have a common grief we are denied communal grief. I think this has distorted the whole process and we no longer know how or the value of collective grief. When we share our sadness, our feelings, our sorrow we find strength. I long for grace to grow as we relearn how to move toward one another and see new ways to grieve and hope together again. I am praying that something changes in my heart and in the hearts of other christians to revive this reality. I miss it.