Friday, March 27, 2020

Our Viral Grief

Often, people think of grief only in terms of loss through death, but we grieve—often very deeply—other types of loss. In the face of pandemic, we have much to grieve from stay-at-home orders and social distancing. We grieve missed hugs, financial losses, and the loss of physical community for worship, work, and school. We grieve lost vacations, sporting events, graduations, weddings, and funerals. 

We want to do the right thing—flatten the curve for everyone—but the losses hurt. How can we process all this hurt and deal with this new, viral grief?

Recognize your feelings. Grief can stir up all sorts of uncomfortable feelings that need to be acknowledged. Feelings are neither good nor bad…they just are. We can’t control what we feel, but we can control how we respond. The first step in responding well to our feelings is to recognize them. 

Accept your feelings. For instance, Christians sometimes think it’s a sin to be angry at God and therefore have a hard time accepting that feeling. The good news is that God’s not afraid of our anger. God’s love in infinite. God can handle our anger and every other feeling our grief might conjure up.  

Express your feelings. Cry. Punch a pillow. Keep a journal. Pray.

Trust that feelings are unique to each of us. People might have the same source of grief but very different feelings about it. Trust that everyone’s doing their best with their feelings…even you! Treat others’ feelings the way you want them to treat yours, even if you might not understand them.

Share your feelings with someone you trust. Often, the most healing part of working through grief is putting the words out there; feelings often lose power in the open air. Talk with someone who listens without judgment, without trying to “fix” the feelings, and without telling you what you “should” do. (And remember to be a good listener when others share their feelings with you!)

C.S. Lewis said, “No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” Indeed, we now see in our response to this pandemic just how closely related fear and grief are. God is with us as we wash our hands and struggle with this new—and temporary—normal. God is with us through this uncertainty, fear, and grief. God gave us feelings; let us work through them together. 

This is a slightly edited article I wrote for our church newsletter, and it comes out of my experience as a Stephen Minister and Leader. If you want more information, please email me through the blog. Blessings and peace to everyone. ~Susan


  1. Thank you for posting this Susan, encouraging words, which I'm sure i will read, and re-read over the coming days and weeks. We are self-isolating due to my husband's health issue's - my daughter has gone to stay at her boyfriend's house for now, to free up her bed for me and our family interactions are now video calls....missing hugs sooooo much, but this experience is teaching me NEVER to take things for granted: Family, food, even life itself - God Bless You and your family my lovely xx

  2. Wow...what an amazingly powerful piece. Actually, I hadn't realized until I read this how related grief and fear are. Looking back over the past 4 years since my husband died, it's more clear...especially in the beginning. Interesting that I never put it together. And now, fear has taken precedence, but last week, my grief suddenly surfaced...When I need my husband the most is now... I am working on being grateful for what I have ...and that really helps. Thank you for writing and posting are an amazing wordsmith.

  3. Thank you,Susan,for this encouragement and for your obedience and generosity in making the journey of service to which He called you. I'm inspired by your church Stephen Ministry and its work of compassion. Love and prayers for you and your family.

  4. Always appreciate your sharing Susan. God bless you as we walk through the days ahead.


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