Mourning in Times Such as These

Today I am grieving. Grieving over 70,000 lives lost in my country from one virus in just a couple of months. Grieving yet another black man murdered months ago while his white killers still walk free. Grieving the defensive excuses so many people (mostly Christians) I know are making in order to not have to truly mourn these losses. 

Yet, while I grieve, I still sit at my computer updating the school website for the teachers. I wait for phone calls from our textbook reps to get quotes for next school year. I research free ebooks and read alouds and virtual field trips for my students. I increase the tip on my instacart order to make up for the income loss due to items not being in stock. I pet my dog, who comes to visit me in my “home office” for a quick snuggle. I text my global prayer group about books I’ll be dropping off for their kids. I drink my morning coffee, and turn on the fan as the day begins to heat up. 

And yet, I mourn. Or at least, I try to. 

In the middle of an email about school accounts, logins, and passwords I feel like bursting into tears. It passes quickly, and I move on with my tasks for the morning. Lately, my days feel like this – a slightly jumbled mix of emotions as I try to balance living life day to day in faith and hope (one of the most difficult things for cynical me – hope), while experiencing grief for these deep losses we are facing globally and locally. 

I have friends that can’t even try to balance this. And I get it. Friends who are so focused on the pragmatic side of life that they just can’t give in to any emotion right now. The economy, kids at home 24/7, working from home, getting groceries – this is what they can focus on. And, often, only this. 

Then I have friends who are paralyzed in their grief and mourning, lamenting and gasping for breath at the mere thought of the immense loss surrounding us. They become unable to deal with the practical side of day to day life.

But most of us are somewhere in between, just trying to figure out how to survive this time without becoming callous or overwhelmed. It’s a tricky balance, and I don’t think I know anyone who has gotten it just right. Most of us lean one direction or the other, becoming either too cold or too emotional, prioritizing either the compassion or the practicalities. 

I challenge each of us to continue to seek ways to be both practical and survive, yet compassionately mourn. If you lean toward just getting on with life, and accepting all of this death and injustice as “normal,” “inevitable,” “necessary,” or “not that bad,” I challenge you to learn to lament. My dear friend, an incredible woman who lives with chronic illness, has a blog called The Curse and the Blessings which can walk you through lamenting via the Psalms. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has been recording a series of Songs of Comfort as the pandemic rages, that can help you process your emotions. Spend time in prayer, asking God to help us “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) during this season of loss for so many.

For those of us who lean more toward the emotional side of things, and are struggling to get through the day to day tasks of life, I encourage setting aside time to pray for God to help comfort you, but in a way that makes you capable of reaching out and comforting others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Don’t let this overwhelm you, keeping you in your head. Set some practical steps, like limiting your time on social media and the news. Make a To-Do List that has one achievable goal for each day that week. Bathe your days in gratitude for every little gift from God, from spring flowers outside (even if you’re allergic to them) to a bed in which to rest.

I’m trying to take one or two small steps each day to help me continue to live life and be useful where God has given me tasks to do, but also hold a compassionate heart for those who are hurting right now, including myself. 

If you have anything that is helping you lament, or helping you continue living daily life, please share with the group. We can all use the encouragement and support!

12 thoughts on “Mourning in Times Such as These”

  1. Thank you for your blog. It’s comforting to read your words and know that others are experiencing grief and sadness with what’s going on in the world in the midst of this pandemic. We feel isolated and cut off from others. You reminded me that we’re not alone.

    Thank you for your kindness!

    1. You’re welcome! And thank you for this comment, helping me feel less alone too.

  2. Thank you for this. Your picture at the top says it all. I so feel it too. Funny you should mention Yo Yo Ma as he has been getting me through the rough moments. I love you and this blog!

    1. Love you too, my friend. Isn’t the cello just the perfect instrument for lament?

  3. Once again, you express your heart in a way that helps me put words to what is going on inside my head. Thank you. I’ve been trying to keep track of the special moments that are only possible because of this strange time-specifically with my daughter. Like today, we went to enjoy some spring flowers, along with, it turned out, most of Columbus. I felt very stressed out and pretty angry. No one was wearing masks (they’re only being recommended, not required) and most were being reckless about social distancing. But we were able to find some spaces we could be alone and she ran in the open field and took my hand and held it while we walked-that was special, she’s getting close to thinking she’s too old for any of that. So, I’m making note of the moment because it’s precious.

    1. What a beautiful moment to hold onto. I’m glad you could find it in the midst of the frustration from others’ carelessness. Love you!

  4. Glad I read this and thankful for your presence and comfort to me a few weeks ago at my ugly point! Your words mean so much! Thanks, friend!

  5. Well, expressed Fawn.

    Here’s a C.S. Lewis quote that often encourages me: “Faith is the act of holding on to things your reason has accepted–in spite of your moods.” Or as we often say at our house, “Never doubt in the darkness what God has given you in the light.”

    My deepest concern goes out to those who are struggling through all these difficulties with our Lord Jesus. It’s up to us who do know Him to reach out to them with our “irrational” hope in God. ” Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Rom. 5:5

    Grace and Peace….

    1. Beautiful response, Jan. Thank you for this reminder of faith and hope. Love to you and your family.

  6. Fawn I just wanted to say I’m so grateful for this blog of yours. Your compassion, wisdom and humour always shine through. Especially at a time like this it is comforting to see your blog posts pop up in my inbox. God bless you.

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