Cowritten by: Yvonne Rheinschmidt Ph D, LPC & Scott Rheinschmidt MA LPC
“What are you discussing as you walk along?” Luke 24:17
It’s now been six weeks since our lives have been thrown into survival mode. Some of us may be experiencing unrelenting feelings of stress associated with trying to survive this worldwide pandemic. Some of us are even surprised that we are capable of improvising, adapting and overcoming. Most of us have improvised, most have adapted and most are overcoming and beginning to thrive again. We noticed today that many people are adapting and moving forward as we shopped at Lowes. To our surprise, many shoppers were seeking items for projects while keeping social distance: wearing their masks, keeping space between each other thus adapting to the circumstance. Psychologically speaking acceptance is essential for moving forward. This is a key point in the grieving process. Acceptance of loss, which is the final stage of grief, allows us to move forward and begin to thrive again. Obviously, this is easier said than done.
Many are experiencing grief due to the fact that they are missing out on important events such as graduations, funerals, weddings, job losses and believe it or not, many children (and parents!) are grieving the school closures. Grief is not a linear step by step process or completed in a certain amount of time. Grief is a discombobulating holistic soul, mind and body disruption to normal life. Loss challenges our sensibility, belief systems and can even challenge our faith. Unresolved grief can have a negative impact on the rest of our lives. COVID-19 is impacting our lives in a discombobulating manner challenging our thinking. Making us change how we do life. It is challenging our sensibility. The question is how do we work through grief associated with the coronavirus. Grief is a ‘change’ process. We have to face it, we have to work through it and have to challenge ourselves to accept the change.
Jesus’ death and resurrection had a profound impact on people’s lives. In their grief, they struggled with what they believed, they struggled with faith. Their emotions had them afraid and feeling weak. Mind, body and soul the disciples were challenged. How then did God guide his people through their grief? The road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), Jesus noticed the desperate conversation in his disciples. He reminded the travelers what Scripture said. In the midst of doubt it is Scripture that brings clarity. The disciples had to accept the circumstances. Jesus died, was buried and resurrected which was prophesied in Scripture. Today we are invited to do the same: Acceptance in all its forms.
Psychologically, the key point is acceptance, acceptance of the way things are versus resisting what is. Acceptance is what allows us to heal and begin to thrive. We may recall that the first stage of grief is denial, the antithesis of acceptance. To get to acceptance is the hard part because acceptance means admitting we are not in control. Life happens, loss happens, challenges take place Scripture even says we will have troubles. Acceptance that there is a worldwide pandemic and we will have losses associated which we can’t control is the first step towards thriving. We can control how we respond. We can choose to make necessary adjustments and we can grieve with hope through faith.
Pope Francis stated in his 4/26/20 Regina Coeli message that we need “to stop orbiting around oneself, the disappointments of the past, the unrealized ideals, and to go on looking at the greatest and truest reality of life: Jesus is alive and loves me. In life, we are always journeying and we become what we go towards. Let us choose the way of God, not of the self… We will discover that there are no unexpected events, no uphill path, no night that cannot be faced with Jesus”.