Group Grief

The balance of new life will come, but only with the hard work that grief actually requires…

Earlier today I was at choir practice at our church. After we finished working on the pieces for the next few weeks, we started looking at music for the Lenten season, which will be upon us before we know it. And while I knew we would be doing it, there was a side effect to using the music from the 2020 Lenten season that we never got to use, one that I did not see coming: we were missing the bass part. Actually, we were just missing the bass.

It had not occurred to our Music Director or I that when we began this music, my husband was still alive and we had a full extra part in the choir. It is something we have been compensating for since starting back to choir practice last summer, but not with pieces we hadn’t looked at in two years. Oops.

Sucker punch to the gut out of nowhere. Great.

My sons’ favorite show right now is Bluey. Wonderful show. Fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough on every possible level. And I don’t even mind watching it on repeat constantly. Seriously.

The opening song lists off the main characters: “Mum!” and the boys say, “Mommy, that’s you!” Then, “Dad!” and one will quietly say, “My daddy’s in heaven.”

Oooof.

It’s a funny thing about grief that they don’t teach you in school and that our culture definitely never, ever wants to admit: grief keeps on going. For a really, really long time. Never really goes away, honestly.

It’s true that the day to day walking through it does get easier after a while, but generally, now when it hits, it hits all the harder. And man does it pack a wallop. This is true for my husband. For my mother. My father. My dad. My mother-in-law. And every single other family member I have lost.

Now here’s the part we really don’t want to talk about: not only are we individually grieving the losses of loved ones as per usual, but we as a group are grieving the loss of our corporate way of life that we lost when the pandemic hit. Much like losing a family member, this loss is complicated. On one level, many unhealthy patterns and habits of this world have been called outright. Some have even been discarded entirely, which is probably good. On another level, we all lost so many opportunities to create memories together that we cannot get back, which is not. And still on another level, we have experienced so much loss, fear, anger, separation, anxiety, aggravation, and estrangement that it will take probably at least a generation to fully process it all.

For now, the way back to some semblance of balance in our lives is a whole lot of baby steps, both individually and communally. However, one of the most important things we can do is recognize the pain when it hits. Recognize it. Acknowledge it. And let yourself or ourselves work through it. Only then can we actually start moving forward – be it in singing again or finding remarkable new ways to play.

The balance of new life will come, but only with the hard work that grief actually requires.

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