Greetings my friends,
Over the 20 years of my public ministry I have been honored to walk with many people through times of grief. This honored task comes with my role as a simple parish pastor. I have walked with people who have lost loved ones, spouses, parents, children, and dear friends. I have walked with people who are experiencing grief over the loss of close relationships or the loss of employment. I have walked with people who are experiencing grief over the loss of a long- held belief or a dream that they have had for themselves or for people they love.
A primary resource that I have used to help during these times has been a little book entitled “Good Grief” authored by Granger Westberg. In this book Westberg outlines 8 “phases” of grief. The final phase is living in the “new adjusted reality.” As we all know, people experience and deal with grief in their own time and in their own way. Many times, we take “one step forward” only to fall “two steps behind.” While all of this is true, eventually, with intentional thought and discernment we come to the “new adjusted reality.”
In many ways the pandemic that we are now all facing together is much like experiencing grief. Initially, most of us experienced the fear of what was occurring around us. Internally we asked, “will we get this virus?”, “will someone we love get this virus?”, “how will we function if we are forced to stay at home?” As time continued to move forward, we slowly began to come to terms with the pandemic. Our questions begin to modify. We ask; “how will we know when it’s safe again, and how we can be safe?” “What tasks can we do that will occupy our time?” We began to become more aware of the situation and thoughtfully began to think through how to act during this time. Please take note; perhaps you are still experiencing the fear associated with this time, and that’s ok. Everyone will move through this time at our own pace, but please know that if you need having someone accompany you on this journey, help is available.
Now I, and many of you, are coming to a place of dealing with the “new adjusted reality” of the pandemic. We are beginning to think and prepare for the “new normal.” We are looking for ways in which we as individuals, as communities of faith, as humans will adapt to the “new normal.” Our thoughts are more hopeful as we anticipate the time in which we can gather even if our gatherings are smaller than they used to be. We come to a place in which we can fully appreciate and be thankful for the efforts of so many people who have kept us safe. We do what for most of us comes naturally as children of God, we look for times, places, and ways in which our gifts and talents can help other people. We remember and learn from the past. We fully live in the present, but we begin to hope and dream about our future together. In other words, we embrace the “new adjusted reality.”
While the future remains “foggy” we are beginning to see light at the other end of this pandemic! Our Lord has, is, and will continue to accompany us all through the grief of this pandemic. Our community of faith has grown and expanded during this time and more and more sisters and brothers in Christ have gathered around us to share their gifts, their talents, their time, and their resources with us. In some ways we have powerfully grown and flourished while we have experienced the social distancing forced on us by the intrusion of the COVID19 pandemic in our lives.