Grief is a good guide through dark times

Why grief might be your best guide through the pandemic quarantine.

Lately I have had the sensation of a heavy weight on my chest. I’ve laid awake at night and wondered if my off-and-on coughing plus this pain wasn’t allergies but the coronavirus, especially since I had pneumonia after the flu in January. But, a test came back negative.

Along with my results came a sigh of relief and temporary suspension of this pressure. But now it’s back.

One day it hit me: I’ve felt this before. This current pain is much milder (which might be why I didn’t notice it at first), but back in 2018, our son lost his best friend to suicide. This pain is a shadow of the pain I felt in my chest then, but I realized: it’s grief.

More like this: The “particularly intolerable” of today

As much as I’m trying to focus on silver linings like more time with my kids and game nights over Zoom with friends, this is still a really scary and (pardon my French) shitty time. My husband has closed his business down for the indefinite future, which means we have very little income. As parents of young kids, we’re never alone but have also lost our access to community and support. We don’t know what the future holds, and that’s a legitimate loss.

And it’s okay to grieve it.

More like this: What a disability theologian taught me about not feeling rushed

I’m reading Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard to my kids right now. It’s an allegory about a girl named Much-Afraid who is making a journey to the High Places, where she will live in the Kingdom of Love with the Great Shepherd. She has two guides on her journey: Sorrow and Suffering. In chapter 9, Much-Afraid’s path dead ends at a precipice she can’t imagine scaling, but the Shepherd gives her a blessing and courage:

Then he called her companions, who immediately stepped forward. Next he took a rope from a crevice in the wall of the rock, and with his own hands roped together the three who were to ascend the precipice. Sorrow was in front and Suffering behind, with Much-Afraid in the middle, so that the two who were so strong and sure-footed went before and after. In this way, even if Much-Afraid slipped and fell, they would be able to hold her up and support her by the rope.

I’m not trying to sentimentalize this pandemic into a moral story we can all learn from, but I am saying this: let your grief be your guide as you attempt to navigate this strange time in our lives. She will teach you things that confidence, positivity and hope can’t. And that’s okay.

In fact, it’s good.

Photo by Paula Sotomayor on Unsplash

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