This past year and a half has been challenging to say the least, and one of the many things that has been present more than usual is grief. Pandemic grief is often unnamed, unrealized, unarticulated. We know that we are more anxious than we once were, and we might experience frustration, anger, defeat, and similar emotions more often too. We use coping tools such as minimizing the threat, increasing precautions to reassure ourselves of safety, or just try to distract ourselves and not think about all that we have lost.
Things are certainly changing, mostly for the better. Stores are opening, restaurants are increasing capacity, youth activities are returning to normal, mask mandates are loosening as herd immunity is increasing. And yet, we still face difficult decisions about vaccinations, either for ourselves or for some of us, for our children. Some of us may feel guilty or conflicted shifting “back to normal” when we have loved ones whose lives have been lost or who still are fighting to survive. We are still postponing, limiting, or adapting events such as weddings, graduations, birthday parties, and more. With these milestones, and even with the everyday things like feeling safe at the grocery store, we mourn the comfort and security we once had. We have become so used to the grief we carry that we hardly even notice or name it anymore.
And yet, God is with us. God knows what it is like to mourn. Jesus wept. God knows what it is like to comfort those around us in an anxious, messy, grieving world. God knows what it is like to fear the unknown future ahead of us, as Jesus in the garden before his death. God even knows what it is like to lose a son, to mourn the death of a loved one that seems so unnecessary, so unfair. God is with us, knows us, loves us, in every stage and expression of grief that we have and will go through.
And lastly, God unites us with one another, woven together into one body with many members – the body of Christ. The body knows how to comfort itself, how to care for and heal itself. It is innate. So rather you are in the midst of healing or in need of it, you are not alone. You have support. Rather you are in the beginning stages of grief, the middle, the long term, or are fluctuating between them all, you are not alone. Your grief is valid. All of ours is. So whatever support you need or can give, may God empower you to do so. Whatever grief you carry, may you take comfort in knowing God knows that grief too. And wherever you are in this moment, may you take hope that no matter what is to come, God is with you, and so is the church, the body of Christ. Amen.