Grief may be magnified this holiday season due to the pandemic

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The holiday season does not mean everything will be merry and bright for everyone.

Trees, songs and gatherings signify happiness, a characteristic that is not synonymous with 2020. But there’s a reason why you may feel down.

“All change brings grief,” said Rev. Dr. Andy Menger with Church of the Good Shepherd.

He has done his share of funerals and comforting grieving families. But this year brought a different type of loss that might cause some people to want to avoid Christmas cheer.

“I have so many people that I know who are elderly and they won’t see their grandchildren this Christmas or they won’t be able to go to a son’s home or a daughter’s home or have them there and that grieves them,” he said.

But don’t feel bad. How you feel is normal.

Rev. Dr. Menger, who serves as Senior Assistant Rector holds a grief share via Zoom each Monday at 5:30 p.m. and he knows that people who are grieving need to connect with other people who are grieving.

“It is ok. I call it the cover my head in the bed syndrome. Just want to crawl in bed, get under the bed, pull the covers, and just kind of grieve a little bit,” he explained.

She won’t be in bed, but Melrose York knows exactly how it feels after losing her husband Ron in February and her daughter Katie 12 years ago. Add the COVID pandemic and she has a triple dose of sadness.

“It’s hard for everybody. It’s absolutely the most difficult year I think any of us can remember, but people in grief, it’s harder for us,” she said.

York told NewsChannel 6 there won’t be any trees and lights. As a Christian she plans to focus on the reason for the season, a nativity set will be her go to decoration this year. And she plans to see some family, an important factor in getting through grief.

“Just the mere loss itself is isolating. And you put COVID on top of it and all we’ve had to do. We can’t see people’s faces, we have to stay 6-8 feet apart, there’s no touch involved at this time. It’s hard because people in grief need community,” she said.

But there is something that can be done this holiday season.

“With COVID and all the upheaval in our country, it’s great to have something higher. I’m speaking as a Christian priest,” Rev. Menger said. “Something higher that calls you to light, to God, to Fellowship.”

Rev. Dr. Menger added people should also pick one small thing to do differently, keep a routine and be patient with yourself.

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