As the year 2020 began, the term Social Distancing was not something that most of us had ever thought about. But now, those words seem to hang over every thought and conversation. The physical separation is probably one of the most difficult parts of this unprecedented season. Our very way of life has been altered because of the unrelenting virus that has pervaded our society. The pain of isolation and separation is compounded exponentially when a person is in the midst of sorrow.
Grief annihilates us in the best of circumstances, but grief in isolation – that can crush the already broken heart. Sadly, that is what is happening to many of our friends, family members and those in our communities.
We all appreciate physical touch to varying degrees, but in my experience physical touch is vital to those who are grieving. A hug can transcend past the inability to say or do just the right thing. When our daughter Nicole passed away in an accident, I heavily relied on the physical presence of the people who loved our family. When grief pressed in all around me and words meant to comfort fell useless on the floor, a touch or a hug would be like a healing balm to my soul. Those who were able to attend our daughter’s memorial service gathered around and propped us up in our pain. There are people right now who are planning a funeral for a loved one and will be doing it alone because of their isolation. They are unable to draw strength from those around them.
It’s not only the sick and dying from the virus that are impacted. I spoke to a mama the other day who is still in the beginning, raw stages of grief over losing her son. This pandemic has added insult to injury, and she feels devastatingly alone because social distancing has separated her physically from those who she needs to draw comfort from.
You may be one of the victims impacted by the destruction of the tornados that swept through Middle Tennessee just a little over a month ago. You may be grieving the loss of a loved one, loss of your home, business or dream because of those storms. The required separation from other people can make it difficult to receive the help you need.
Sometimes we may tend to forget those who are hurting around us because it is a little like “Out of sight, out of mind”. So, it is very important that we are intentional about remembering those who are hurting in our communities. Because of the restraints of social distancing, we may have to be creative in how we minister to those who are struggling with loss.
Nothing can replace a hug or a touch, but there are some ways that we can help while still observing the confines of social distancing.
First and foremost – Remember those who are hurting. It is easy to get caught up in our own little worlds, while we focus on our own problems. Whatever it takes - reminders on our phones or sticky notes. Make a point to remember
Pray often, especially at night, for those who are hurting and separated from others during their grief
When you are headed to the store, ask them what they need specifically and what you can drop off for them
If you are financially able, contribute to whatever their situation may require
Reach out to one person a day, who may be hurting and acknowledge their pain, let them know you are thinking of them
Send cards, texts or even flowers
If you are able, leave gifts, signs or cards on their doorsteps.
There are no magic words or deeds that will take away the pain of those who are grieving, but to be remembered will help ease the loneliness of isolation. When all this has settled down, continue to remember those who have suffered tremendous loss. They will need you then as well. There will be time for long hugs and the wiping of tears then.