Grief and the COVID-19 crisis

Lay Servant Ministries


I recently read an article on the internet (so you know it must be true!) from Harvard Business Review that referenced our emotions in this time of COVID-19. Some of their staff recently met virtually, a screen full of faces in a scene becoming more common everywhere. They talked of many COVID-related things and emotions, but one mentioned that what she was feeling was grief...and there were a lot of nodding faces.

If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it.

David Kessler, in his book “On Grief and Grieving,” offers that we feel a number of different griefs. Today we feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different than how it was before 9-11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air; and there’s something powerful about naming this as grief. It helps us to feel what’s inside of us. When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion. It’s important to acknowledge what we go through. 

If we tell ourselves things like "I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse," we can and should stop for a moment at the first feeling, "I feel sad." Feel your sadness and fear and anger even if others do not. Fighting it doesn’t help, because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not the victims. We are more able to go forward, walking our journey humbly with God feeling grateful for this day, enabling us to be whom we are to be: those reflecting Christ…and that through us others might come to know God, in spite of the world around us.

God, we ask that all who are affected by this virus be held in your loving care. In this time of uncertainty, help us to know what is ours to do. We know you did not cause this suffering but that you are with us in it and through it. Help us to recognize your presence in acts of kindness, in moments of silence, and in the beauty of the created world. Grant peace and protection to all of humanity for their well-being and for the benefit of the earth.  

Scott Barnum
Hays District Director of Lay Servant Ministries