Grief can be cyclic while death is a thief and a robber. Grief is an emotion which can cause one to spiral losing all hope and focus—concentrating on what is lost. Never that remains, or has been found in the midst of their cycles of grief and loss.
In a year where there has been so much grief and loss, we are not at the part of the year where we have the opportunity to celebrate the holiday season. Yet, in this time of COVID-19 (with its own accompanying grief), this time of year may cause you a dual or parallel grief. The nation is still in the deep grip of a global pandemic, and yet to be separated from people whom you love—and that are still alive!—can be just as heart breaking.
The holidays are indeed a time of reflection, and there is a peace that is supposed to accompany these gatherings. It may be hard to celebrate a holiday without an influential presence of a loved one: a father that made your favorite dessert; a grandmother that made a ham; a sister with her stories as she made her signature cobbler or macaroni and cheese. In that time of that personal perennial grief, having COVID-19 adding to that grief, the pain of that loss can seem insurmountable!
Yet there is hope. There is a way forward. There is a way to conquer this COVID-19 induced grief as well as any pre-COVID-19 grief. One of simplest things—and hardest things you can do is to be grateful.
The writer of Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? ,Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, says it eloquently in 4 words:
“Hope is a discipline.”
Gratitude is a process and hope is a discipline; both things tied to faith in yourself, as well as a personal belief system. During times of grief, spiritual practices, or religious observances may provide solace and peace you will not able to find elsewhere. In the time of COVID-19, the need for social distancing is paramount for the safety of all, yet there are still resources available to reach out to therapeutic of spiritual communities. This can be done via ZOOM, Facebook, or certain podcasts and even YouTube! Even in the time of grief, you can celebrate the lives of those whom you have lost through journaling, visiting graves, scrapbooking and even making their signature dishes! In this, you are manufacturing hope. As you go through your grief process, you may even find it beneficial to begin to make a list of things you are grateful for, and even that you are hopeful about. For example, let us examine my own experience and the loss of my father: “I am grateful to my father for having him 47 years (rather than focusing on the fact that I am now living without him).
“I hope that I can master his sweet potato pie recipe! I am going to try it this Christmas.”
Grief will touch all aspects of your life when it comes, and it will come. However, it will be your reaction to it which will determine how you will best handle it. You are still entitled to celebrate life and all of its joys in the midst of the process of grief—don’t deny yourself this. You owe yourself hope. You deserve joy. You deserve to enjoy your life—even as you remember the lives of others.