In all honesty with you, these words I am about to share are from the rawest of heart, as these pages are tear-soiled ground for the grief that my family is encountering today, and I know you will relate as well in this time of loss and of disappointment as this season brings many changes.
Easter morning my pawpaw passed away and sitting in Ohio with traveling roads to Alabama and COVID-19 restrictions standing in the way, it was a different level of grief to face.
To receive the reality that because of a virus, I would miss standing graveside with my family and that a funeral would not be allowed and the list of restrictions continuing is not for the faint of heart to walk through together.
It asks a level of bravery to lay down what we cannot control and give mourning its place for how to show up virtually during a life-altering moment of time. The hardship of missing bedside goodbye and a hug embrace is a shared grief around the world, and it is a place that feeling all the feels will guide the grief journey as we step onward.
Stages of grief: Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance
Flowing through every crevice of the heart and shouting for a place to land amidst this strange pandemic.
A phone call that sends tears of sadness to hear the news of a loved one’s death typically sends a loved one packing or readying their hearts to attend the funeral and viewing and allow graveside difficulty to embrace the pain with tenderness of heart. A lifetime of building into relationships and into legacy investments and it is a healing ground to have loved ones stretched throughout different chapters of a person’s life to GATHER and TO MOURN TOGETHER. It is natural and it is a community at its finest.
Yet with COVID-19 and only 10 people 6 ft. distancing at only a graveside allowed, it is asking hearts to find their connection during virtually a phone FaceTime encounter.
As one enter’s this new place of mourning, there is an opportunity to fight this battle with strength and to FEEL ALL THE FEELS and let grief take its position in your heart as you find your way to grieve.
COVID-19 may alter the hugs and the physical gathering but the rawness of this moment will still have its honor in your story and be present in light of feeling grief, yet the places that are different will not own you and keep you from being surrounded in this space.
I compiled a list of ways that as I sit in grief amidst this social distancing time, in my own experience is creating a surrounding around my heart that says, “You are not alone,” and is being used to speak peace through the gaps.
Here are 5 places of support for the person grieving:
Let people know of your grief.
I know that in this time, it can be difficult to share with others the places we are suffering because we do not want to burden another with more tough news to hear, but THIS is where the community rises up and sharing it with a trusted circle will gather around you in these moments that you need presence lifting you up.
Utilize phone connection.
Believe me that I KNOW it is NOT the same as being there in person, but in this time of focusing on things that we can control, create a space that ushers in peace for you and the ability to be still before your family.
This may look like letting FaceTime connect you virtually to the gravesite moment if that is an option. Releasing balloons in honor of your loved one as a family. It will bridge your heart across the miles and allow you the moment to sit with “all the feels” in supportive ways. To feel the gathering with you, have your circle you shared your grief with praying over you during this time.
It helped my spirit to FaceTime my mom for a walk-through prayer in my grandpa’s home as I was able to see the rooms and sit in them for a few moments as I breathed in the way it was before changes happened, knowing it will be different by the time we are released from restrictions and travel there.
Write a list of memories you have of love shared together.
In a crazy time where the restrictions outnumber the allowances, the aspect of robbed moments can linger deeply within the thought process of it all. It is a part of the process to grieve those losses absolutely and I know those are part of your list to walk through in this. Not getting the bedside moments to say my goodbyes has been a deep process of this grief, so to help my heart in the healing, I compiled a list of the connections we did share during this time and wrote down my favorite memories as it gives me a visual of places love carried us together to focus on as the strongest voice.
Create space to feel.
Grief as a parent is difficult at times to shoulder the emotions and know which ones to show your children and which ones to set aside. It is a balancing place for giving yourself the space to grieve as our needs within it can look different. I am a cryer – I need those tears of healthy spaces to fall as I embrace all the parts of it. My husband gave me a full day of room time and I let the kids know that I was ok but that I needed the space to cry and to be sad for a little while. To have this space of no expectations for my emotions to show before others and to straight-up ugly cry for like 12 hours was a healthy process.
Make a memory project with kids.
My children shouldering the loss and the absence of funeral presence weighs heavy on their spirits as well. You know your kids’ ages and process best, but for mine, creativity speaks to their hearts. We gathered together photos of my pawpaw and came together to create a collage of words of loved memories to put together.
I see you, friend, in this grief and I am incredibly sorry that you are entrenched with pain in these moments. Prayers for you as you step onward and receive peace and love.