By David Lichter
We are deeply grateful to our members and colleagues who have written on grief in these pandemic times. I suspect you, like me, have been inundated with articles that have sought to articulate the many forms that grief is manifesting itself these days.
We are all familiar with, if not trained in, the classic definitions and understandings of grief. We are learning how anticipatory grief, complicated grief, and unresolved grief are manifesting themselves over these past months, with no end in sight. Perhaps in our own journaling and prayer we have been able to identify in ourselves the anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, anger, or despondency that might characterize our own grief.
Personally, it’s taken me time to name it and sit with it in my prayer, in God’s presence, and in my conversation with God. I have found certain scripture passages have taken on greater meaning for me, such as the post-Easter road (Luke 24:13-35), where the two disciples shared their loss of Jesus and their disillusionment – which first got in the way of their recognizing Jesus, and even in sense dismissing him: “Are you the only one not knowing what happened?” I could identify with their pent-up frustration. However, so often in our COVID-19 listening sessions did my heart burn with appreciation at what I heard, and my eyes were opened anew. Those sessions continue to be places where loss is shared, God is present, and mission is restored. Thank you to all those who are sharing this seven-month journey of loss!
Another passage for me has been the raising of Lazarus, especially John 11:21-24 where Martha confronts Jesus with her frustration: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Martha combined her deep loss and grief with a trusting plea. I realize how much my prayer and cares in these days have to be real and raw with candor, yet also expressing a trusting request.
Finally, this passage of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 always calls me to a higher purpose and identification when I recognize and name my losses. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” It reminds me of God’s comfort for me, and if I am not grounded in God’s comfort, I really don’t have any reference point to be comfort for another. So I again am called to “to name it and sit with it in my prayer, in God’s presence, and in my conversation with God.”
I pray these articles will help you to come to the Lord in your loss and grief so that, in turn, you will be Jesus to many on their own road of loss and grief.