Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Grief In The Midst Of A Global Pandemic

Tuesday, April 21, 2020  
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
Grief in the midst of a Global PandemicRight now many of us are dealing with emotions that we cannot exactly identify.  We feel… afraid.  We feel…angry.  We feel…shock.  We feel…lonely.  We feel…sad.  What we may be feeling is grief. Loss of life is the loss most often associated with grief, but in truth, all loss can bring feelings of grief.  
We have all experienced a lot of loss.  Many have lost jobs.  Some have lost close friends or family, and the world in general has lost a lot of lives. We have lost contact with some of our family and for some, that means they haven’t been hugged or had a physical touch in over a month.  We have lost fellowship somewhat even though we are still communicating online and watching our churches online.  We have lost security.  We have lost normal life as we knew it.  And we have lost time while simultaneously gaining time - lots of it - at home. More time at home great, depending on your home. The time lost with family, friends, etc., is gone forever.  We have lost traditions as well. Some of us are anxious over what losses are still to come, which is called anticipatory grief.
I am not trying to focus on everything we don’t have, but just want to highlight the fact that we have lost a lot in a short amount of time and some of us are bound to feel grief over it, and it is a very valid feeling. Some signs of grief are trouble focusing on normal tasks, sleeping much more or less than usual, feelings of anger and irritability, headaches and digestive issues, no energy or feeling fatigued, and of course overeating, online shopping, drinking, and avoiding thinking or talking about your feelings. 
If you are feeling any of these things, it doesn’t mean you don’t have enough faith.  It means you are human, and God made you and understands. We understand that we are in temporary circumstances, yet we also understand that things have changed and some of them will never be the same again. It may be insignificant things, like always having a supply of toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer on hand, but it is still uncomfortable to us. It is hard when we step outside on a beautiful sunny day and then we remember there is a global pandemic going on.  
The excerpt is from an article in Harvard Business Review published about grief during COVID-19:
Understanding the stages of grief is a start. But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world. There’s denial, which we say a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed.
Fear is also playing a major part in the chaos in our hearts.  We hear the worst-case scenarios on the news and social media, and it stirs up everything we have been fighting down. What can we do when we are overcome with these feelings?
Reach Out to Family and Friends - You may want to turn inward and not talk to anyone because of how you are feeling.  Reach out!  Sometimes just a conversation with someone who loves and cares about us makes all the difference.
 Listen to Podcasts or Sermons that are Uplifting and Positive - Nothing can lift a heavy heart like worshipping.  Just the very act in itself can completely change our feelings. 
Pray! - God knows how we feel, and He understands. He wants to take the burden from us and He wants us to lean into Him and find the peace that fear has stolen.  
Get Help - If you feel like you need to talk to a pastor, don’t hesitate to reach out to your church. 
These are unprecedented times, which adds another layer to our whirlwind of emotions.  Who should we listen to, because this pandemic is unprecedented. But this is nothing new to God.  He was not taken off guard and surprised that this virus has caused such an upheaval. He knew and He has been through the whole thing and knows how it looks on the other side of it.  He will lead us but only one step at a time.  We can trust Him to heal our land and our hearts, and He is the only one that can do it. 

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