I believe there’s an overwhelming corporate and private grief we are all in. And I think many people have no idea that what they are feeling is grief. There’s a lot we’ve lost to this virus. Too much to list but for starters, there is the loss of college graduation ceremonies, wedding receptions, baby showers, spring sports, school plays, band and choir concerts, Easter egg hunts, dinner dates, movie dates, home openers, March Madness, NCAA everything, concerts, kindergarten programs, field trips, funerals on hold, visits to grandma’s, Disney World vacations, long-awaited trips, reunions, income, student teaching, the comfort of a daily routine, school, favorite pastimes, haircuts and beauty treatments that make us feel better, elective surgeries that don’t feel elective, hugging your grandchildren, and birthday parties.
Loss of What Might Have Been
There’s also the loss of dreams. The loss of what might have been. Students across the land are asking, “Would my team have made it to playoffs? Would I have had a PR in my spring sport?” The Minnesota State High School League allowed the girls to compete in the first rounds of the State Basketball tournament, but they did an about-face and stopped the entire tournament at the point of the championship rounds. The girls, left with high emotions and higher hopes, were told to go home. And stay home. Away from teammates. How do they get to process that loss? Apart from the teammates and coaches who are the only ones who really understand. Ugh. That is the scene replayed for other athletes across the globe. And on all levels. Imagine being an Olympic athlete hitting your peak for the 2020 games only to realize there will be no 2020 games.
The Quiet Losses
Our losses are sometimes very private and unknown to most others. There are those who have lost the one thing that kept them pressing on. It might be as simple as a weekly card game or a visit from a friend. I ache for those who are not cognitively able to understand no matter how someone tries to explain. The elderly patient with dementia who cannot understand why the children no longer stop by. The child with autism who will not and cannot accept your explanation of why they can no longer see their favorite teacher or participate in their essential structured routine called “school”. My heart breaks for them, for those who love them, and for all the “missing you” that is going on across the world.
I think we all feel the heartache of trying to imagine someone dying of Covid-19 and dying away from the ones they love the most. I remember when my son, Eric, was deathly ill of an unknown disease in Hawaii back in 2011. I flew to him and all during that horrendously long 23 hours of travel, my two prayers were “Please let him be alive when I arrive” and “Please do not let him die alone”. I salute the doctors and nurses who will be stepping into the role that should be reserved for someone else. May the predictions of the high death toll numbers be wrong. We are feeling the weight of all this when we do not know what has us tense and edgy.
No Wrong Way to Grieve
Grief is very personal. How you cope will look different from how I cope. Men may grieve differently than women. Children certainly grieve differently than grown-ups. And some of you are adding this grief to other grief and it is breaking your back. We have to lean on someone. We have to. I only know of One who can bear such a weight–the weight of the world leaning heavy and helpless–and that is Jesus. If you have never considered leaning on Him, I say it makes all the difference. But don’t take my word for it. Try Him and find out for yourself.
Gobs of Grace
Our losses vary as far as depth. The loss of a loved one ranking deeper than the loss of a wedding reception, for sure. But loss is loss. And grief is very real in countless ways. It’s good to recognize it, to offer grace to others when we don’t understand their emotional outbursts, and grace for ourselves when we don’t know why we are so edgy and exhausted. Mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) because we can’t borrow from yesterday.
Pray for one another. Offer gobs of grace. If you can be anything, be kind. “Father forgive us, we don’t know what we’re doing” – Luke 23:24