Grieving Together While Apart
Grieving Together While Apart
I don't know about you, but I was never taught how to grieve. I've been taught how to celebrate, and how to plan for parties, weddings and baby showers. I've known to bring food after a funeral and call a hurting friend, but what do we do when personal and collective losses keep coming...and coming...and coming? I've never had that lesson.
This fall, I experienced a several-month-long bout of anxiety, insomnia, post traumatic stress and depression. The effects of life experiences, isolation, continued stress, and kids returning to school thrust me into a healing journey. I wouldn't have asked for these experiences, but they transformed my life. My recovery is another story, but after the intense emotions of the fall settled, I've found grief to be the guest who waited her turn and would now like to sit awhile.
One question I've been asking myself is how do we grieve or honor losses in a time of separation and with limited ways to gather safely? I don't promise to know the whole answer, but here are a few helpful ways to be a good hostess to grief and grieving loved ones.
Host a Grief Circle
I recently hosted a Zoom meeting for several close friends who walked with me through the past year. I knew I wanted to allow grief some space, but I didn't know how to do that in a healthy way with others. We ended up calling our meeting a Grief Circle, and it was a holy, sacred time. We each brought two symbolic objects of something lost and something gained. I read a brief description of each stage of grief. Each woman was invited to share a sentence or two about what anger, guilt or acceptance looked like for her. Our Grief Circle was about an hour long and helped close the distance between friends who have unique, but also shared sorrows.
Grieving Together While Apart
Plan or Send a Meal
One beautiful thing about technology is we can manage a meal schedule for someone in a different city or state. Take Them A Meal has an incredible option of sending a meal when you are not able to deliver one in person. We received a meal from friends in THAILAND while I was struggling (photo above) and it was a gift to our family.
Send a Memorial Gift
When my best friend since kindergarten lost her dad during COVID, I couldn't make the trip to Michigan for his memorial service. Instead, I was able to send a memorial stone like this one for them to place on a trail they were creating to celebrate his life. On the anniversary of his death, I sent a care package with things like tea, and gel eye pads for puffy eyes after crying. I also got my kids involved by sending carefully chosen stuffed animals for her kids. When my sister lost a very special mentor several states away, I was able to send her a memorial windchime to show I cared from afar.
Gather Virtually or Outside to Remember
When our close friend lost his father during the past year, his relatives were spread across the country and couldn't gather as a larger group for the funeral. They ended up doing a family Zoom call where relatives could share stories about his dad. He said they cried and laughed together. I've also seen beautiful expressions of remembrance through candle light vigils, memory walks, memorial art projects like this one or memorial video compilations through services like this one.
Do a Grief or Healing Practice with a Loved One
Even if you are far away from the one you love who is grieving, you can share an experience from afar that can help with healing. There are Yoga for Grief and Suffering videos like this one. You could do them at separate times or with a video call. Send your friend a massage or spa gift card and maybe even get one for yourself. Try to schedule them the same week and think of each other as you receive care. Share your experience with a text or call. Read a book on grief and discuss over video or read something completely light and fun and do the same.
Grieving Together While Apart
Give Permission to Grieve
This can be done in person, on a phone call or email, or through other means, like sending a thoughtful card. I've used these empathy postcards to send sentiments that didn't feel sentimental. In my experience, one of the biggest gifts we can give our grieving loved ones is permission to feel so the sadness, rage and guilt can move through us and not stay.
Sarah Dessen says, "Grieving doesn't make you imperfect. It makes you human." More than ever, grief seems to be the common denominator of humanity in 2022. May you find a way to lean closer to the mystery that is recognizing loss and finding meaning. And may you not do it or allow it to happen alone.
Melissa Weaver lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where she cares for her husband and three young children. She writes about motherhood and faith, identity and legacy, and the intersection of the sacred and mundane. Her first chapbook of poetry, Welcome, Stranger: Poems of Making and Keeping Our Children, is available through Finishing Line Press.
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Scott & Adina
Welcome! We're thrilled you stopped by. Our own joys and sorrows have taught us that a well-timed meal delivered by a friend is one of the best gifts imaginable. In this space, we share our favorite recipes to take to friends, meal-taking tips, and other ways to care for those who are dear to you.
  
  
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