My hair tells the story of our last year and a half. Some call it “stress hair” or “anxiety hair.” Though I try to put my best foot forward and appear like I have it together in these crazy days, my hair tells the real story of my inner life—it’s unruly, inconsistent and unpredictable.
The best term for what’s happening to me may be “grief hair.” Did you know it’s well documented that grieving people can experience hair loss and changes in texture and appearance of hair? Yup, grief hair is a thing, and we’ve had plenty of things to grieve over this past year and a half as individuals, a country, and a world. We’ve lost 4.5 million people worldwide to COVID-19, with the USA leading the list of documented deaths per country. We’ve grieved a loss of safety and a loss of normalcy in our everyday lives. We’ve grieved the loss of relationships over rising political polarization. We’ve grieved the loss of the lives of people of color to structural racism. We’ve grieved. Over and over, we’ve grieved.
How are you attending to your grief these days? We can ignore grief for a time, but eventually our bodies and minds make us stop and give attention to it. In my 10 years of ministry, I’ve accompanied many people through grief and have found these ways of moving through grief to be the healthiest. First, name your grief—admit to yourself that you are grieving. Find community—through church, or friends or a trusted counselor (like me!). Ask for help—over and over, as many times as you need. Remember the good things in life—as much as you can and as often as you can. Lastly, always be honest with God and with yourself—God already knows where we are and how we feel, but the practice of being honest with God also helps us be more honest with ourselves. Tending to our grief helps us to avoid becoming callous and rigid in our approach to the world—instead we become more compassionate and graceful in giving grief the attention it deserves.
Here are some concrete ways for you to tend your grief in the coming months:
*If you’ve lost a loved one, sign up to take part in the Grief Support Group that Kyle and I will co-lead this Fall, October 6-November 10, Wednesday nights, 5:45-7pm (childcare available). Email me or Kyle to sign up.
*Attend online or in person the Greenville Grief Seminar, September 16-17.
*Be present or tune in to our All Saints Service on Sunday morning, October 31.
God be with you in the grieving!