Grace, Hope, and Grief in Times of Crisis

When the madness of this pandemic finally passes over, we’ll all be left with the fact that each person got some of it right, most of it wrong, and collectively we made it through. There’s not a single person among us who will be able to claim that they were spot on with every prediction, suspicion, and declaration about how things should be handled. And if they do make the claim, I guarantee you that they are/were part of the problem.

See, society doesn’t improve when the naysayers stand by and proclaim “I told you so.” It improves when, as a community, we decide that we’re better than the sum of our parts. We stand with our strengths and we rely on others to help in areas that we’re weak. We applaud those who are helping and look for ways to help others as well. This is how we not only survive, but thrive and grow and make strides forward, even in moments where it seems like time has stopped.This is not a time to stand around pointing fingers and passing blame while we stand idly by and do nothing. Yes, mistakes have been made on all fronts by nearly every organization imaginable. But let’s remember that no amount of preparation, committees, or pre-made binders was going to 100% mitigate this from being a global event.We are where we are now and we can’t go backward. So let’s work to give each other grace instead of judgment.

Grace for the utility worker, the delivery person, the grocery bagger who’s stretched thin, has been in contact with a hundred other folks before you today, and is wondering how many of them are carriers.

Grace for the teachers, who spent 4-12 years plus continuing education preparing for a localized classroom environment and then were unceremoniously whisked into 7 days of online training and then expected to magically produce the same results with their students. From their homes. With their own children running around.

Grace for the parents, who are trying their best to make financial ends meet while also attempting to entertain children suffering from 2 months of cabin fever. Who are working from home, out of work entirely, furloughed, or deemed “essential” enough to have to leave their children behind because the workplace demands it. Making sure their child has completed all 24 assignments for the week may not be their top priority, but it doesn’t make them a terrible parent.

Grace for the health care worker, some of whom haven’t been home to see their families in weeks for fear of passing on something to loved ones. The ones attempting to treat a thus-far “incurable” disease but are expected to produce results. The ones working tirelessly in front of you but barely holding it together behind the scenes. They may be making it up as they go, but they’re doing it for all of you, so you don’t have to see and experience what they do. Dozens of times over. Every day.

Grace for the policymakers. In a situation where “fluidity” is the word of the hour, they’re going to misfire. There’s only so much information one person can read/hear and retain, and given how quickly reports and studies are changing perspectives, their decisions are being made to the best of their abilities, in order to help as many people as possible, with as little negative repercussions as possible. It’s hard. And it’s a job where your choice in policy can’t win. If you do things to keep things open and situations worsen, you lose. If you keep things shuttered longer and the medical conditions die out, the cry that “things never got as bad as the doomsdayers told us” emerges and you lose. It’s a thankless job.

And then, we need to have grace for ourselves and our families. This is a hard time. This is a time none of us saw coming. And whether you’re living in denial, anger, depression, struggling to find meaning in it all, or have chosen to just accept this as the new world we live in, you need to be ok with acknowledging that these are all stages in the grief cycle. And you need to know it’s ok to grieve the loss of days with friends. Time with family. Friends and loved ones who have passed on. Grief over financial instability. Missing important events like graduations, birthday parties, or vacations. Grieving failed businesses or startups that never happened. Or a shared loss of 283,000 worldwide to date, even though you may never learn their names or see their faces.

But in that grief, look to others in your circles for hope. Find the helpers, just like Mister Rogers always told us to. And even better? Become the helper. Become the hope. Look for ways to reach out. Look for ways to give grace instead of judgment. It may not make this virus go away any faster. But it’ll make us all better people on the other end. And that’s a goal worth striving for.

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