Greetings. As we pass 2 million Coronavirus Cases world-wide, our hearts go out to the sick and the grieving. We pray continually for those on the front lines who are putting themselves and their families at risk in order to help others. We remember the lonely, the stressed, the hurting and the depressed.
I’m so proud of our church family. Over this past month I have seen demonstrated time and time again the love and dedication of countless people. Our livestreaming team. Our teachers. Our IT people. Our children’s ministry team. Our elders. Our deacons and deaconesses. Our Life Group leaders. Our Prayer Ministries Team. So many people have been serving in so many ways. I’m proud of you!
Many of us are struggling with the physical distancing measures. We’re missing or church family—being able to worship in the same space, and being able to greet one another with a warm hug. We miss being able to visit with family and friends in person. As we make our way through these challenging times, I encourage you to keep looking to Jesus. Prioritize time spent in the Book, and in prayer. I also encourage you to make use of our toll-free COMMUNITY HELP LINE. Call 1-844-844-8248. We have volunteers standing by, ready to help you. Call if you’d like someone to pick up your groceries or medication, or if you’d just like to chat with someone, or if you’d like to have someone pray with you. We have certified counsellors who will help you free of charge. So please call. And please share the phone number with your friends and family. Share the attached poster via social media.
Recently I received an article written by our College Heights Family Ministries Leader, Wanda Johnson. It’s insightful. It’s practical. I want to share it with you…
Dealing with That Feeling of Loss During the Pandemic
Today we are all grieving. We are grieving the loss of freedom we once had, a predictable future, and the lives and roles left behind in our rush away from the Coronavirus. We also grieve the loss of industry as we once knew it; jobs, business closures and those who prepared food for us. All of us are fearful about work, health, our families, and our futures in ways that we never imagined possible a few weeks ago. We are afraid for our parents and grandparents, our children, our jobs, our country, our way of life, and, perhaps most deeply, our own mortality. That said, our individual responses to these fears can vary a lot. No two people grieve exactly the same way. I’d like to suggest, however, that by using the universally shared experience of grief, perhaps we can gain a bit of insight into our individual as well as our collective reactions.
In the book the Grief Recovery Handbook authors John W. James and Russell Friedman share that the way we learned to deal with loss while growing up affects the way we deal with grief today. If we learned, while growing up, to replace what we lost with something else or to keep busy and don’t talk about it, then that’s what we’ll try to do now. However, it doesn’t work. How do we replace what we’ve lost in this situation? We can’t. Then we’re likely to attempt to fill the empty spaces with short term energy relievers to avoid having to feel the loss. Short term energy relievers could be anything that makes it so we don’t have to feel what we don’t want to feel.
One of the most effective ways to deal with these losses is to give ourselves permission to feel the feeling of loss, write about it, find someone we trust to share those feelings with and then make plans for how we are going to focus on the blessings God has placed in our lives today and how we can make the world a better place.
One final concept to consider when talking about grief is role loss. Role loss occurs when we lose not simply that something or someone close to us, which is deeply painful. Role loss is not just missing that something or someone, it also means missing our relationship to that something or someone. For example, after my retirement from Burman University (which was a good thing), I didn’t just miss my job as the Director of Counselling, I also missed being in the students lives, my collogues and being a part of the University community. This is role loss.
I think there is a lot of role loss going on right now. And with this in mind, grief becomes a much larger arena. We grieve not being a helpful leader at work, not being able to support the new hire, and not being able to throw that work birthday party with the cookies that everyone likes. We grieve not being able to worship together as a community and connecting with fellow believers. We are grieving our roles – our routines, our journey, and most of all our regular contact with those we are on this journey with. It’s all hard. It’s all grief.
Sadly, I can’t fix this for you (or me). But maybe I can give some perspective to our collective experience, which I think is the job of any good therapist – to help people normalize and understand what they are going through. Please, allow yourself some anger, denial, bargaining, and a bit of despair. Go ahead and grieve. You have earned it. We all have. But don’t do it alone. If you need someone to talk to, give me a call. We’re in this together. (To speak with Wanda, call 1-844-844-8248 and select option 6.)
Grace and peace to you!