Grief—remembering--is a trip that many right now are in the process of taking due to Covid-19 Pandemic: loss of loved ones, business closures, lost jobs, loved ones in hospitals, denied visitations, stay at home restrictions, school closings, worship closings, graduations canceled, social distancing, unavailability of supplies etc. Many are saying they’ve lost their world; their social life is on the rocks. Loss of purpose is also a huge part of this particular grief. We cannot be sure where this particular vein of remembering is going to take us, but according to studies of people dealing with all types of losses, it’s pretty certain everyone--adults, youth and children will experience some of the wobble as they cope very differently.
I usually write what I need to read which now includes understanding the purpose and importance of grieving because one month ago I lost my husband, Jim, of 65 years to Glioblastoma brain cancer after a mere five weeks. Because of Covid-19 we were unable to have his Celebration service. My lifestyle, as for everyone, has been altered. I will share what I learn.
My purpose is to encourage you readers in the throes of remembering fresh losses to be knowledgeable and creative in adopting personal stamina and be enabled to make wise decisions and communicate positively to your family and friends who trust you for direction. Also, I urge you to be mindful of your temperament preferences as well as the preferences of those who listen to you. Even a seven-second unkind rushed retort can remain in the memory of a 10-year-old for years. Because nerves tend to be frayed in crises, remember to employ non-offensive “I” statements, keep your body language under control and be mindful of your tone. Think before you speak.
Although grieving, also referred to as mourning, is normal, there’s no universal pattern for handling it. We just need to be ready for it when it arrives. It’s a unique journey. Let’s take it together. Riding it out is like learning to ride a bicycle. One must have more than a willingness to get on that bike. Learning how to balance, then move at the same time takes patience, practice and a trusted coach to encourage and catch you when necessary. The trip can become wobbly as we learn, in stormy weather, rough terrain and the demands a view of the landscape, vehicles and dogs ahead. Bikers benefit from a readable map. And nowadays, a cell phone. But keeping one’s balance is of utmost importance. Don’t stop or you’ll fall over.
Here’s what I’m doing right now applying advice stored up from years around veteran grievers in our family and congregation. First thing I did was make a remembrance table covered with a quilt of prayer-ties from our son’s church in Kentucky. A favorite photo of us together, his new Bible I gave Jim his last October birthday, his glasses, a plant sent in his memory and a history book he was reading. Amazing how that remembrance table comforts me.
Sleep 7-8 hours.
Continue stretching, walking, exercise.
Keep meditation time.
Journal memories and feeling, thoughts and concerns.
Respond to sympathy cards with brief notes.
Consider every call very important. Often, the person calling has a grieving story.
Maintain normal schedule—meal times, bedtimes.
Engage with people; use the phone/email during this crisis. No apologies for tears.
Reach out to others who need to be heard or helped.
Write down what you’re missing:
Holding the flash light for him.
Having spiritual discussions after devotions.
Sharing prayer time at meal times and at night before sleep.
Hearing his comments about the news.
Listening to the sermon ideas for upcoming messages.
Dropping everything and accompanying him to the hardware store for a part.
Taking an extra walk with him after dinner.
Smelling popcorn mid-evening that he was master at making and serving.
Putting any broken item on the table knowing he could “not not “repair it now.
Teaming with him to make hospital calls or when emergency calls beckoned.
Discussing a bill that you don’t understand.
Playing our daily competitive ping-pong two-out-of-three games.
I’m trying to follow all the advice that Jim and I have given to parishioners and clients over the years. We cannot control what we don’t understand. I’ve learned that grieving is a very healthy part of adjustment to a loss but knowing what to expect or when one might be impacted is the key. Some do not grieve for months; others even not for a year. Tracking and recording emotions and changes in behavior is a good beginning.
I consulted my professor brother, John, who teaches a Death and Dying college course for his advice. He says embracing tears in expressing sorrow are very important. Avoiding sorrowing with tears or sharing what you miss actually delays or distorts healing. Brother John emphasized that sorrowing is actually healing. His advice is to accept grieving/mourning with open arms. We will understand more as we look back.
My goal is each day to learn as much as possible and help whoever I can. I consider Jim’s death not as an end but a new beginning. He would want me to do that. Going from the known to the unknown is our path.
…praying that you will be filled with His mighty, glorious strength so that you can keep going…always full of the joy of the Lord” Col. 1:11 (TLB)
“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. “
Ps 16:8 (NIV)
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Read the whole Psalm; it’s my favorite. Ps 16:11.
I invite you to share suggestions and personal experiences that would help another by leaving a comment at the blog-site or to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org