On Monday morning, a very good friend’s 52-year-old son died of COVID-19 complications. He left his wife and two children, his brother and his widowed mother behind. His state wasn’t yet vaccinating his age group when he was infected. His death, and the deaths of nearly 600,000 people who have died from this virus in the U.S., are a crying shame. There is no one, and maybe everyone to blame. And even though I was not close to him, I love his parents dearly and feel wounded by his death, yet another pandemic loss.
The pandemic has left a psychic bruise on most, if not all of us. We are hurting in different ways – whether from the loss of loved ones, loss of health, isolation, boredom, fear, anxiety, fatigue, cabin fever, overwork, lack of work and so much more. We are pining for the nostalgic past when life was free from this silent intruder.
For many of us, the hurt we’re feeling is invisible to others. We feel, process and manage the strain differently, some with healthy activities, like exercising, meditating, praying, volunteering, cleaning, gardening or binge-watching shows and some that are unhealthy, like overeating, self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, overworking, retreating into ourselves or binge-watching shows (it can be both a good and bad thing, right?).
It is important to acknowledge our own evolving feelings, to identify areas where we feel bruised or off-kilter and to look for healthy ways to heal our wounds. One of my healing methods is to share my story with others – to get it out of my head and onto “paper” – so that it doesn’t fester or grow within me. Whatever our healing strategies, we must be intentional to practice them now. And, as the pandemic eases, we will feel great relief. And we should expect to feel grief for all that is lost, too. We will have to take time – even in the wonderful post-pandemic era – to process and heal from our grief.
For now, though, we must take great care with ourselves and with each other. We don’t always know what others are going through, but we can bet that every single person has a story of at least one negative impact the pandemic has had in their life. Sure, there have been silver linings, but there have also been serious challenges for most. Let’s be intentional in our words and actions so that we honor the raw, vulnerable humanity within our firm leaders, colleagues, clients, vendors, fellow church members, service providers, friends, family members and, especially, ourselves.
Let’s heal our world by extending grace to those who fall short – starting with ourselves.
By practicing acts of kindness for those we love and those we’ve never met.
By offering compassion to those in pain.
By being of service to those in need.
By listening to those with burdens.
Let’s tread lightly and treat everyone we meet as if they were nursing a psychic bruise we cannot see. Because they are.