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Grieve Well

IW insights for this present time

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Like many of you, I’ve been following headlines and news stories that track the spread of COVID-19 and its drastic implications throughout our world. I grieve with those who are sick, losing loved ones, or struggling to find basic life necessities. I’ve also been following the “smaller” stories—ripple effects of the virus on individual lives. Weddings are being postponed. High school seniors are missing proms, trips—treasured traditions that were to have ushered them into adulthood. Babies are being born without loved ones visiting the hospital to celebrate the miracle of their lives. Birthday parties are unattended. These stories of loss that may go unnoticed lead me to share a few words of advice.

Please understand that I don’t offer advice because I feel that, as an Alliance international worker (IW) I know how to handle things in a more spiritual way. Times of crises prove to me that my trusting-God muscles are just as weak at times as any believer, regardless of my profession. Rather, I write as one who has a lot of experience with loss.

Counting the Emotional Cost

As IWs, we miss many special family events. We are regularly separated from loved ones. Our kids, while having amazing life experiences, also miss out on valued opportunities. In our contexts, plans can change quickly and dramatically. Instability of governments or visa platforms can change our daily lives on very short notice. Big and small losses add up over the years. We have counted the cost and believe that serving God is absolutely worth it—but the losses can take an emotional toll.

As IWs, we have learned the value of grieving well, and I think this will be important for all of us in these days ahead. God created us to feel the emotions appropriate to the situation we’re in, and it’s healthy to feel sad when you have a loss. If you downplay (“Well, my loss isn’t anything compared to . . . ”) or just stuff your feelings, they will inevitably pop up again somewhere in the future.

Praise God that He doesn’t have to ration out His comfort and healing—He has more than enough for both the big and “small” losses we are facing.

Receiving Comfort

So, if you’re experiencing a loss because of the COVID-19 virus, take a moment to be sad. Grieve well. Acknowledge how cruddy it is that you are missing out on _________. You may want to journal your feelings. Then sit for a time with your God who grieves with you and truly cares about your loss—no matter how it may compare with others’ losses—and receive His comfort. Acknowledge that He loves you, has good plans for you, and has your life and the whole world in His capable hands—then, move on.

This practice has served IWs well over the years and may be life-giving to you as well. By the way, kids can also be taught to grieve well, and this is a skill you can share with those around you. Grieving well can help position us to be emotionally healthy and ready to serve the hurting world around us with the comfort and help we’ve received from God.

6 responses to Grieve Well

  1. I agree with the person who said to write it out in your journal. This is sometimes how i pray when my mind is scattered. I never thought about it being my psalm. I have a whole book of them. The thing i grieve the most, is not being able to go to church. The whorship, the friends, the studys. Although my pastors do an exellent job at bringing those things to us. Live fb conversations, wonderful sermons, zoom meetins,music. I that God for my church.

  2. Thank you for sharing your insights. Your thoughts are helpful and encouraging. God bless you.

  3. Thank you for this insight into an IW’s perspective. I appreciate your honesty and the correlation of your loss experiences in your lives and making that connection to what many are experiencing now with loss because of COVID-19. It helps me too, to know how to pray more specifically for all of our IWs!!

  4. And if you write it out it’s like you’re writing your own Psalm, because so many of them are a lament

  5. Very well said. You make a very good point and I for one have taken it to heart.

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