Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2022 Blog #17
May 2, 2022
How Long Does Grief Last?
Two years ago, like many if not most, Americans, I was struck by grief. At the beginning of April 2020 a beloved friend and mentor Rev. Dr. Allan J. Janssen died of COVID-19. His wife was sickened also but survived. The two contracted the illness while out to dinner with another Reformed Church icon, Rev. Dr. Gregg Mast and his wife. Gregg and his wife also contracted COVID-19. Gregg fought to live an additional three weeks but finally died on April 27. Like Al’s wife, Gregg’s wife was sickened but survived.
I was still reeling from these deaths when I was called on April 29 to check on my sister. She had not gone to work and was not responding to phone calls from work nor to wellness calls by the local police department. I found her and it was clear that she had died on April 28 while preparing for work.
Over the past two years I thought that I had largely healed from the grief of these three losses. I think about them less and less each day as my life has continued. I was busy with daily work at church and enjoying grandparenting with my three grandsons. Grief, I thought was over as current evens took over. I was wrong. It was buried, not eliminated.
On Facebook I began to read tributes to Al and Gregg and my waves of grief came back and overwhelmed me. Suddenly I was grieving as I had done two years before. I had the feeling that emotionally I was stuck in a time two years before and was asking the questions, “how long does grief last” and “does anyone really outlive grief?”
These are feeling that congregations have as well as individuals. Many congregations have suffered many losses during these last two years of COVID-19. How long will congregations grieve and how will they overcome grief?
I guess that we never truly get over grief. We simply deal with it enough so that it does not keep us from living in the present or looking forward to the future. Grief is part of living but we must never let it become the core of our lives. We surrender it to God and allow God to use our grief and channel it for better, more faithful, future days.
To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order copy of his book:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/