There is a sneaky outcome from this pandemic. It’s always there in everyday life, but much more spread out and rarely hits an entire population at once. There are also degrees of it, from barely noticed to profound heartache. This sneaky outcome is feelings of grief and loss.
Grief is, of course, most keenly felt at the loss of a loved one. But we often experience grief from other losses as well. The loss of a marriage, of a job, of a dream – all those create feelings of grief. Some we can prepare for; others hit us unexpectedly.
During this pandemic, folks have suffered new and unexpected losses. The loss of freedom. Perhaps the loss of a job or even the loss of missing the familiar workplace. School-aged children have suffered a loss of friendship and connection with teachers and other students. Some of those will also miss their spring sports, their prom, and celebrating the completion of education with pomp and circumstance. Those are only the tip of the iceberg. Some have lost vacations, friendly gatherings, and of course, worshiping in one place.
Isaiah wrote, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… “to comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1–3, NASB95)
During this time, we must consider our own loss and recognize how that may be affecting our attitude and our mood. But we must also recognize and be willing to comfort those who mourn – even when it seems trivial to us. A 2nd grader missing school may be experiencing the same depth of loss as a person who lost their job. As always, we must be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” (James 1:19b, NASB95)
Grief is real. But so is the comfort and healing that God provides. Coming out of this pandemic, we will all have a loss. Some small, some large. But there are also gains.
The other side of the pandemic coin is the gains we will experience. Sometimes those gains are presented like brightly wrapped gifts. Some of those gains are like morel mushrooms hiding under a brittle leaf.
Not only must we consider our loss, but we must also discover and celebrate our gains. Time spent with a loved one. Conversations and connections that were previously rare. New habits and learning about ourselves in the process. The time we gained to clean that room long ignored or the hobby we never had space to try.
There is one gain I want to emphasize. This can be, should be a time of increased growth and trust in Christ. All of our religious accessories have been momentarily stripped away. Faith grows more in seasons of struggle than in times of plenty – if we lean into Jesus.
During this time of staying at home, we will experience loss and gain. And most of it will arrive unexpectedly. But that doesn’t make them any less real, less painful, or less valuable.
The takeaway is this. Consider the losses and the gains you are experiencing. But also, be a willing vessel to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Comfort those who express loss and celebrate with those who express the joy of gain.