Riding the Waves of Pandemic Emotions (1/4) - The Stages of Pandemic Grief

Updated: May 2, 2020

Kessler explains that what many are experiencing is grief. See if you recognize yourself in any of these stages:

Understanding the stages of grief is a start. But whenever I talk about the stages of grief, I have to remind people that the stages aren’t linear and may not happen in this order. It’s not a map but it provides some scaffolding for this unknown world. There’s denial, which we saw a lot of early on: This virus won’t affect us. There’s anger: You’re making me stay home and taking away my activities. There’s bargaining: Okay, if I social distance for two weeks everything will be better, right? There’s sadness: I don’t know when this will end. And finally there’s acceptance. This is happening; I have to figure out how to proceed. (Berinato, 2020)

So once we recognize that we’re experiencing a kind of grief, then what? The Bible has a lot to say about how to handle grief. Without minimizing it or shaming us for experiencing it, we are encouraged to find peace and safety in Christ.

Start reading the Psalms and you’ll soon see that David was very familiar with deep grief.

I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. (Ps 38:6)

David never denied his grief, but he also didn’t live in it. Through his pain he trusted God.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,

and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,

out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground

and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed.

They will put their trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3

Kessler reminds us of the power of acceptance.

Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance. I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn how to work virtually. (Berinato, 2020)

David reminds us of how to reach the place of acceptance.

God is our refuge and strength,

always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come

and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam.

Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

Psalm 46:1-3

God is in control of the earthquakes, the hurricanes, and even the global pandemics. And He knows what He’s doing. That doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with the grief that comes with going through these things, but it does give us hope that will sustain us as we navigate them.

Trust Him in your grief as David did in his. God will never let you down.


Scott Berinato, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” Harvard Business Review, n.p. web, March 23, 2020

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