When I am with a family who are grieving I usually try to speak a pastoral word to them about the fact that they will all grieve differently. To know this will help them when some of them show more emotion than others, when some go quiet and others want to talk, when the speed of the process is quicker for some than the rest.
I encourage them to be patient with these differences. To graciously understand. To be alongside each other in the differences.
I think this advice has something to say into our Coronavirus Times.
I have shared before that I quite enjoy the new dispensation. Though I can hold a crowd of a few hundred every Sunday, I am an introvert by nature. I am an only child who enjoys his own company and finds constant socialising to be hard work. That part of this lock down I am dealing with well.
However, I have friends, like Jim in the photo with me, who are not dealing with the isolation well. They buzz around other people. They need that socialising to feel good. For these friends isolation can be a mental health issue.
Indeed, even within our own homes mental health is being stretched in all kinds of different directions. Some of the family are anxious while others are calm. We might be needing different levels of interaction or aloneness. We might be seeking different activities to make it through. That can pull at the seams of family relationships. We need to allow for each other.
Some of you might know where I am going. I didn’t intend to. Yet, it is obvious. U2’s song One. When different melodies played over one another to harmonise, Bono started to sing:
but we're not the same
We get to carry each other”
It is a good song for Coronavirus Times. In our homes let us play One and then as the apostle Paul exhorts us, in Philippians 2 verses 3 and 4:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Let us be mindful. We will not all deal with Coronavirus the same. Let us carry each other.