Dealing with our Losses during this COVID-19 Pandemic

April 22, 2020

How are you dealing with your losses?  We all experience losses in life and today we are experiencing the loss of social interactions.  Some people are feeling disconnected from their families, while others remain separated from their spouses, and still others are feeling scared about the future.  We often like to keep our emotions in check and deal with life in a sensitive, yet rational way.

When we are confronted with an extreme degree of uncertainty, we find ourselves being pulled -sometimes relentlessly- by our emotions. Tony Talbot states, “Grief comes in unexpected surges…mysterious cues that set off a reminder of grief. It comes crashing like a wave, sweeping me in its crest, twisting me inside out… then recedes.”  When this happens, we tend to feel like our lives are out of control.  We don’t really like to be in a state of ambiguity and as a result we begin to search for meaning and a concrete reality that can foster a sense of balance in our lives once again.  So where do we go from here?

This pandemic is causing hardship, panic, fear, pain, suffering, and death.  We are now in various points of grief.  It is helpful for us to begin with the most accepted theory of grief established by the notable psychiatrist Kubler Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. As a result of this pandemic, we are all currently experiencing these types of thoughts related to our losses.

Becoming aware of these perceptions as they relate to grief, gives us a sense of certainty and balance. I know it is a small sense of certainty, but it is the beginning, in which we start to regain a sense of balance in our lives.  This further clarity also gives us insight into the understanding, that we are not alone in our struggles.  Helen Keller stated, “Walking with a friend in the dark, is better than walking alone in the light.”  We are all walking through this epidemic together.  With the strength of knowing we are walking together through this time of grief we can face the uncertainties of life.  We might not experience all the stages of grief in the same order, but we take comfort in knowing that we can understand grief.  

The stages of grief as noted by Kubler Ross, can be easily understood. Denial is one’s state refusal in acknowledging one’s loss.  Anger is that state of becoming exceedingly frustrated with one’s loss as If one has been dealt with arbitrarily. Bargaining is the tendency one might have in attempting to barter their situation for a better outcome.  Depression is the state of experiencing extreme sadness, causing a sense of numbness and fatigue.  And lastly, acceptance is the state in which one begins to affirm their new way of life, not despite of their loss, but as result of their loss.  This is the insight that will enable us to know how people typically deal with grief.  However, we are not without further means in dealing with our loss. 

God is our greatest resource in walking through times of uncertainty.  I like the anonymous quote, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”  The hope we may have in God helps us to endure our hardship and look forward to living with a spiritual sense of meaning and purpose.  The Bible gives us insight into the spiritual hope we may acquire.  The book of Psalms states in chapter 130 and verse 5, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word, I put my trust.” 

In closing I have a challenge for us all to partake in; Barbara Lazear Ascher said, “I have been trying to make the best of grief and am just beginning to learn to allow it to make the best of me.”  In what way can this season of grief be a growing opportunity for you?

Submitted by Sunrise Chaplain Scott Squires