grieving for the world: suffering, sickness, & resurrection

This is a heavy topic for this Easter Sunday. However, this Easter occurs under precarious circumstances. That requires us to look at our grieving for the world.

Yes, we are grieving. It’s not time to sugarcoat these collective emotions that come in waves and wash over us in paralyzing panic. We don’t know the right words to say, whether it’s addressing the immensely crucial role that essential workers play, acknowledging the challenges of quarantine life, or watching the news and expecting the worst case scenario.

What does this mean, to be grieving for the world? There’s something that we’ve undoubtedly lost amidst the pandemic. Although we cannot predict the future, there’s a degree of life we’ll likely never get back. The repercussions of post-pandemic society loom in the distance, just as threatening as the virus itself.

As we’re grieving for the world, let’s take it one step at a time. This is a delicate process, full of vulnerability and anxiety. That’s okay. Grief is so often misconstrued and simplified; now is our opportunity to unpack all of that so, when the time is right, we can move forward.

the process of grieving for the world.

Let’s talk about the grieving process. You probably already know it by its stages and steps. Think of denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance.

Grieving for the world, as with any kind of grief, isn’t so simple. Rarely do we fit into a neat system of well-timed shifts in mindset. We may never feel some of those stages, or we teeter back and forth. We may feel all of those emotions at once, or we continue to feel one of them for years.

There’s no “correct” way to experience grieving for the world. We’re all different people with different priorities and circumstances. That means we cannot expect each other to feel exactly the same way. Some of us are still in denial this is all real. Others are falling into their lowest depressions. And the rest of us are somewhere in between, or in a whole different place entirely. That’s normal, valid, and completely okay.

a note on productivity.

I see a recurring theme during our quarantine I especially want to address because it hits close to home. As we’re all isolated in our homes, there’s a new expectation placed upon one another that this is the time we’ve been waiting for to do all the things. I’m talking write a book, declutter your entire life, learn a new language…you name it, what else are you going to do with all this time?!

While grieving for the world, some of us need to be productive to work through their emotions. However, forcing ourselves to do a ton of activities because we feel obligated to is toxic. Yes, I’m going to call it capitalism. Try and convince me otherwise.

Think of any other example of someone grieving, perhaps for a lost loved one. Isn’t there a time where everyone is accepting of that person taking a break from work and daily life? But then, as if a timer goes off, it’s time to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and “get over it”?

This grief is no exception. As we already mentioned, there’s no correct way to grieve, especially now when so many are losing loved ones, jobs, lifestyles, and identities. By no means should you place unrealistic expectations on yourself to “start working again,” or “stop wallowing,” or whatever else is nagging on your heart.

Grieving for the world, or any form of grief, isn’t remedied by productivity. Your worth as a human being is not based upon your work. Rather than expecting ourselves to do all the things, how about we ask ourselves, how can I be? I can be grateful. Present. Open. Compassionate. Patient.

suffering to resurrection?

Tying this back to Easter, with all the suffering we’re experiencing right now, there’s a sense of wonder in God’s role. Depending upon how you understand God at work in the universe, you may be asking, Why? Why this, and why now?

Ah, the mysterious ways of the Divine. This quarantine and pandemic are unprecedented in our lifetimes, but it’s not the first time it has ever happened before to some degree. A sixth, more recently understood stage of grief is finding meaning. Something must come from this. There’s an opportunity here, even if it’s presently unclear.

I believe that in everything, there is innate goodness. Every person and every circumstance. Perhaps that signifies a degree of privilege, as I write this in social isolation, not directed worrying about loved ones fallen ill or overworked in hospitals. However, I think all of us, in every walk of life, can capture this experience of grieving for the world for a greater purpose.

Will we resurrect from the ashes and rise even stronger? This pandemic has been a true testament to our collective resilience and our abilities to find common ground. As polarized and distant as we have become in recent history, unity is our medicine. Realizing our core values and dignity should propel us toward radical, sustaining change.

Obviously, this is all hypothetical. Only God knows what may come from all of this. Even if we go exactly back to “normal” (which I doubt we will) after the virus dies down, our individual grieving for the world leaves us wanting some greater meaning. That’s ultimately up to how we grow and evolve from this.

still grieving for the world.

Whenever anyone talks about the pandemic, we feel obligated to load up on disclaimers of privilege, potential offense, and just general tiptoeing on thin ice. Emotions are running high. Grief is messy. There are tender spots that our daily dialogue and news headlines keep poking, and we long for relief.

Give yourself grace, and give that grace to others. Allow your existence to be enough, especially if you feel unmotivated to do anything more than wake up. Set your mind upon gratitude and compassion. And just breathe: this too shall pass.

There’s no timeline to follow, no magical date to snap back to pre-pandemic expectations. Your worst, most difficult grief is yours, regardless of how you may compare your feelings to others. We’ve all lost something. Be gentle. Be kind. Perhaps a resurrection is upon the horizon, but remember: every single moment is a chance to resurrect.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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1st November 2017 at 5:16 pm

Grief actually does not go in states like dying. It crops up whenever something triggers it. I ran a grief support group and that is one of the things we emphasized. Grief is more like waves…it rolls in…it rolls out.

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