Unpacking Emotions of COVID-19: Grief

By Violetta Reum

Grief (n.): deep sorrow, especially caused by the death of someone or something.

It has been very difficult to end this COVID series.

Mostly because I desperately want this series to end because I am over it, I am done and I want everything to go back to normal.

I want to have closure, but there doesn’t seem to be any.

So how can we end? How can we move on? At what point do we say that it’s over and it’s time to grieve?

Because to me, grief has always felt final.

We grieve when something has ended. We grieve when something has died.

We do not grieve while we are on a journey, or in the middle of a battle, or during the process.

Soldiers are not allowed to cry and break down in the middle of battle. They have to keep going, they have to continue fighting. Nurses, doctors and surgeons can’t allow their emotions to take over during a difficult procedure. They have to stay focused.

But should we cry in the battle? Is there a place to grieve in the midst of it all?

I really wanted to talk about grief at the end of our series because I felt like it would be a good way to end the season. To think of everything we lost and gained, what was difficult and what we are grateful for. It was going to be the final commencement address, a eulogy to this season.

I was going to count my losses, respect my emotions, and bury this pandemic and everything it represents.

But of course, it’s not over yet. But I am ready for it to be over.

So how do we grieve in the midst of it all? How do we grieve today?

Today I grieve for the people who have died, whether because of this horrible virus or from natural causes.

Today I grieve the fact that the African-American and Latino communities are faced with health care inequality and racially-motivated acts of violence during a pandemic

Today I grieve the time lost, the opportunities missed, and goals not reached.

Today I grieve celebrations that didn’t happen and moments that didn’t feel special.

Today I grieve with the homeless who are even more overlooked, ignored and not helped.

Today I grieve with the families that should feel safe at home but can’t, because of physical, emotional, sexual and/or substance abuse.

Today I grieve for today and what has happened or not happened so far.

Tomorrow I will probably need to grieve again, and then again in a month or so.

Maybe this is better. This is the way to survive. 

Instead of bottling it all up until the end, let’s get connected with our emotions today.

Instead of believing that we need to have it together all the time, let’s ask for help and for our community to come around us.

Instead of only looking at the positive and denying our “dark” feelings, let’s allow ourselves to be angry, sad and grieve what has been lost.

Instead of looking toward the end, let’s be present here, in the battle, in the crisis, because there is something here too; something that is deeply profound and important.

So today, you’re given the permission to grieve and do it freely, unapologetically.

But also remember, tomorrow will come. Hope is on the horizon. Graces are new every morning. And you are not alone in the dark.

Action Steps:

  • Get real with yourself. Take away all distractions and survival mechanisms (yes, put down that snack, put away your phone and turn off Netflix). Be honest with how you are truly doing. Journal, or talk out loud, or pray, or scream into a pillow. But allow the veil of denial to fall off and feel what you feel.
  • Talk to someone. If you feel especially stuck in grief, denial or just being numb, talk to someone who you trust, who respects you and who will sit with you as you unpack your own grief. May this person listen well, cry with you, ask good questions, and maybe even point you to hope at the end. If you do not have someone like this, please seek a counselor. There are so many free options online right now. (I have heard a lot about Better Help recently, and this could be a good start for you.)

Author: Violetta Reum

Violetta has always had a passion and calling to see people pursue God with their entire lives, find their calling and identity in Jesus, and seek deep healing from past trauma and abuse.  She enjoys spending time with her husband and son and discovering all of the coffee shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

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