Since the very beginning of the pandemic, and what is now being referred to as the “lockdown quarantine” last spring, I have encountered many individuals who are grieving what they are calling “loss of spiritual identity.”
I have watched as people spew anger at feeling abandoned by their church, their spiritual leader and/or the congregation they once knew and loved so well. On the flipside, I have listened to countless amounts of sadness and disbelief from those who have been frightened to return to the church setting or those who are eager to return but the pandemic has still forced doors to be shut.
Online or virtual “church” has become not only a thing of necessity, but it has also become an active choice for those who fear COVID-19, a blessing to have available, but another layer of loss as well.
When I worked in the hospice setting, I encountered many who found comfort in their faith after enduring the death of a loved one. They would speak of this support as being their “saving grace” and wondered aloud at how they would ever be able to manage their grief without it. Still, others experienced a crisis of faith and were filled with anger, whether it was at God, their spiritual advisor or even fellow church members whom they felt like had abandoned them.
Now, during this pandemic time, I hear more of this, the anger and the frustration as well as the deep sense of sadness and loss. Many have even taken this time to stop and reflect on their faith and have even begun “church hopping” trying to find the best means of support, but also the message that “feeds their soul.”
To say that people are feeling “lost and confused” right now is an understatement of epic proportions. It is a grief that has blindsided countless individuals, including church leaders who are questioning the absence of their congregation and wondering aloud at the empty pews displayed before them.
Every day political issues have seeped into people’s “sacred space” and have caused intense feelings that further add to one’s “confidence of faith,” leaving many questioning and/or seeking additional answers, comfort and healing.
I am by no means a spiritual advisor of any kind, but I have found myself sitting front and center watching the unraveling of long held “faith identities” as this pandemic crisis continues. People are uncomfortable and are seeking reassurance, not just from inside the walls of their church, but from inside their hearts as well.
Faith happens to be a very personal choice, and many are feeling unsettled and abandoned as they struggle to comprehend what is happening in the world around them. They are looking to their leaders for guidance, leaders who are willingly present but also struggling to provide answers to comfort the souls of those they are tasked to nurture.
Let me say, we are blessed to have incredible spiritual leaders in our community, and they are feeling the hurt and pain as well. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to them and share the weight of your loss. You see, grief doesn’t just arrive on Sundays. It encompasses every aspect of our lives and, sometimes, having faith is our best answer for healing. Can I get an Amen?
Jenny Filush-Glaze is a licensed counselor and owner of Serenity Community Counseling LLC. Contact her at email@example.com.