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Grieving small things

Airdrie opinion_text

“It’s also a pandemic of human disappointment. Cancelled trips, art openings, sporting events, book tours, concerts. Things folks have been planning for, working toward and excited about ­– that’s a lot of grieving on top of sickness.”

Lutheran minister Nadia Bolz-Weber tweeted those words March 12, which feels like an eternity ago. That was before self-isolation and social distancing became widespread practices in Alberta, before the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic was being felt. As this situation has developed, those words have reverberated in my mind. They are especially resonant to me now.

I’m not supposed to be at home right now. For several months, my wife and I have been planning a vacation to Houston to celebrate my 30th birthday. For me, as a devoted basketball fan, the trip was going to be extra special because we had tickets to see my favourite team, the Toronto Raptors, take on the Houston Rockets. Since December 2019, I’ve been counting down the days until my first NBA game.

Then the league suspended its season. And then travel restrictions were imposed. And then we were told we all need to stay home in order to flatten the curve.

And I know, in the grand scheme of the devastating impacts the coronavirus is having globally, not being able to go on vacation is piddly. But, on top of everything else that is disappointing and depressing about living through this pandemic, it feels especially hard for me.

Likely, you are also feeling a similar disappointment. Maybe you were also supposed to go on vacation, or you have to miss a concert you were excited for, or your community event or fundraiser is on hold. Or maybe it’s something much more serious, like a job loss, a business closure or, God forbid, an illness ­– COVID-19 or otherwise.

The words of another minister have been on my mind lately, as well. As our paper has tracked the disruptions caused by this pandemic, I interviewed Rev. Ruth McArthur from Irricana United Church. During the course of our conversation, she said she’d been reminding her congregants of something Fred Rogers said.

“Mr. Rogers was a gift to the world, because he told us to feel our feelings,” she said. “We have to feel our feelings, and then we have to look ahead about what we’re going to do with them. If you’re sad, you’re sad. If you’re happy, you’re happy, and if you’re scared, you have to talk about it.”

Lately, I’ve been reminding myself it’s OK to feel angry, sad, disappointed, afraid, confused. It’s OK to feel that way about both minor and major things. We’re all feeling these emotions, and we’re all in this together.

Ben Sherick,
Follow me on Twitter @BenSherick

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