faith, Pandemic Wisdom

Calendar Grief

I waited and waited, like you did, for March 2020 (the longest month ever in the history of months) to end. I was super excited about a new month…the glimmer of hope and the possibility of life back to normal after this weird pandemic and sheltering in place. The Governor of Texas announced on March 31st that all schools would remain closed at least until May. Was he aware that this was a crushing psychological blow to those of us waiting to flip the calendars to a new month, season and overall outlook?

I have an I-phone calendar like most people but I also have lots of old school calendars. I have a sloth calendar that a friend gave me with a new smiling sloth each month. I have an animals doing yoga calendar in my study. This month there is a panda on that one doing the warrior pose. It says Warrior not Worrier and makes me smile every day. I have a kitchen wall calendar that serves as a family calendar.

I was so excited about April that I didn’t anticipate what would happen when I turned the page. I wasn’t ready to see event after event of things we would not do. All our high points and highly anticipated events and trips, gone. All the milestones from our grandson’s second birthday to our son receiving his Aggie ring, those plans canceled. Boo.

Sarah Bessey, an author, shared the same sentiment on Twitter, making me feel less alone, Well, we turned our calendar page to April-hallelujah, after the decade of March-and it is literally empty. Like nothing. No field trips, track meets, basketball practices, meetings, flights, coffee dates, all gone. An empty month. A sea of Wite-Out. A moment of silence.

I’m glad she mentioned Wite-Out because that is really old school and I wasn’t even going to bring it up.

Every day I’m more aware of all we have lost. There is so much grief and such shared grief that it seems strange and wrong to even speak it out loud. It seems wrong to bemoan losing my hair appointment when others lost entire graduations, the ability to be at their grandchild’s birth, someone they love or their financial security or job.

But, our little losses count too. My husband was talking to me this morning about how different work is when you do it on Zoom or other online platforms. Those of us in the people business miss our people. We miss those little interactions or the ability to understand the nuance of a meeting because you are actually sitting beside real people. We miss our favorite restaurants our friends and our family and the list goes on and on. We are grieving the loss of life as we knew it and that includes a mountain of small losses.

I’d like to make a counselor/pastor suggestion if you are open to it. Go ahead and list all your losses in this season. It is okay. You need to do this otherwise all that grief just swirls around inside of you with no place to land. I promise it won’t take you down to list your losses, from big to small. All our grief needs to go somewhere and dealing with it begins with naming it. Name the big losses and the small ones. Name the ones you feel sad about for others. Just take it to the page and let it rest there awhile. Cry while you write. It is okay.

If it helps you, feel free to also list what you are grateful for. That counts too. It will help to see your gratitude fill the page as well.

T.S. Eliot wrote, April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. I always thought this was a depressing line but now I’m closer to understanding it. We’ve lost so much, even as new life blooms around us.

Go ahead and grieve what you’ve lost. Go ahead and shed a tear over your April calendar.

Loss is loss and it all counts.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor. Join her on the Jesus Calling Prayer Call each Tuesday at 7 a.m. CST. (425) 585-6238 enter code 155636905#. The call joins Jesus Calling readers from all over the nation in a safe time of connection, scripture readings, a devotional reading and message by Dr. Ryan followed by a time of prayer. It is 15 minutes of peace in God’s presence. The recorded call is also posted each week at http://www.jesuscalling.com and on Cindy’s Facebook page. Sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle to receive a monthly email of extra content at http://www.drcindyryanblog.com/circle.

5 thoughts on “Calendar Grief”

  1. Thank you!!! Thank you for helping me today with your words.
    Last week was a really hard week for me. It was the one year anniversary of my daughter’s suicide attempt. (She is doing well now). Thursday we should have been leaving for S Korea, to see my son and family for the first time in 2 1/2 years (other than Skype). I just couldn’t deal with it, and Thursday I gave into it and just cried. All day.
    I felt like I didn’t have the right to grieve these things when so many far worse things were happening around me.
    But I DID need to grieve, and I see that now. And friends reached out to encourage me, and not diminish my feelings. I was so grateful.
    Thank you for putting into words what most of us are feeling. You are a gift, and inspiration.

    Sorry to write so long!!

    Julie

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. You are so right. There are losses big and small, but the loss of human interaction is at the top of my list. I pray that when this is all over, we have not lost our humanity. There are so many people now grieving various things, but soring brings hope. The presence of God in the green leaves and beautiful flowers reminds us that eventually we will be ok.

  3. Thank you Cindy for this reminder. I enjoyed your sermon yesterday as well. This post prompted me to open my gratitude journal again (my last entry was Dec 24, 2019). It did help me to write my spiritual debit and credit list ( losses and blessings).

  4. A friend shared this with me. This was such a beautiful read. Thank you for writing out what was on my mind and in my heart!

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