The grief and fear associated with unemployment, isolation from friends and loved ones, restrictions on our freedom with social distancing, staying-at-home, wearing a mask, and loss of life due to the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we’ve experienced. Grief is the normal internal feeling one experiences in reaction to a loss, while bereavement is the state of experiencing that loss. It is accurate to say we are all in a state of bereavement. So how do we handle the grief and work to redefine our new normal?
How people respond to their losses and how they allow those losses to affect them can make a difference for the rest of their lives.Dealing with loss in a healthy manner can be a major avenue to growth and life transforming change. We are being forced to change. Looking at change from a spiritual viewpoint can help us get centered. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
In healing grief, the bereaved understand the choices before them to restore their physical and emotional well-being. Usually this includes seeking the support of loved ones, friends and co-workers, therapists, clergy, and support groups. During the lockdown period, in person support was restricted to virtual support resulting in complicated grief. God created us to be in relationships. “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.””Genesis 2:18 NIV. When we can not touch, hug and comfort one another in person, our grief gets complicated with a variety of emotions including loneliness, helplessness, anxiety , fear and confusion. The normal stages of grief that we are told to anticipate are compounded with many layers of physiological, emotional and spiritual issues that need attention for healing to occur. So where do you begin?
Step One: The way to move on is to grieve.
Grief is not fun, it is painful. It is work. When people grieve, they experience their loss psychologically through feelings, thoughts, attitudes, interacting with others and physically, as it affects their health. The Bible has much to say about loss and grief. The only way to heal is to go thru the grieving process. The good news is, God travels the road with us. Psalm 23 tells of God comforting those who walk thru “the valley of death will fear no evil, for He is with us.”
The well known stages of loss developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, psychiatrist and pioneer in near death studies, described the process patients go through as they come to terms with their terminal illnesses. The stages of denial, anger bargaining, depression and acceptance, were later applied to grieving friends and family members, who seemed to undergo a similar process after the loss of their loved ones.
Grief is not so simple. The actual grief process looks more like a roller coaster of emotions. Kübler-Ross said that grief doesn’t proceed in a linear and predictable fashion. In the midst of this pandemic, for example, we can be froze with a sense of vulnerability and uncertainty of the future and how to deal with this unfair world. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, and futility, makes this grief process complicated. Our faith in ourselves, in others and in God may be shaken. We may wonder if the world will be the same again. We may wonder if we will ever be the same.
God’s Word is a comfort in this trying time.Psalm 34:18 tells us “The Lord is close to the broken hearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed”.
Mathew 28:2 says, “and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Step Two: It’s important not to rush grief.
Grief is very personal, and each of us is entitled to our own schedule. It’s natural to feel confused, sad, and even angry (some of the experiences Kubler-Ross captured in her stages). Grief takes time. It entails accepting the loss of the role we had in our relationships when we lose a spouse or a loved one.
During this time of change, it’s important to remember what has not changed. Although much has shifted, some constants are present. Our trust in God and His control over all things, our remaining friends and family are a good start. It’s important to take comfort in what is stable and use this as a “home base” from which to redefine our life and purposefulness.
Regain your joy and peace. Don’t let your loss become an idol that you ruminate on. Focus on God, on who He is, and what He has done for you. Keep His ability, not your overwhelming loss in the forefront of your mind.
Psalm 121: 1-3 “I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber.”
Each person’s loss and the time it takes them to grief is unique. Christian counselors are skilled in helping you through this difficult time. At Royal Palm Christian Counseling, we’re here for you. Call us today at 239-939-0707 to schedule a time for a session in person or a video/tele session.
Colleen Shue M. Ed In Counseling,
Certified in Biblical Counseling and
Brain Health Coaching