Tips for Handling the COVID-19 Pandemic

Each day, the world seems to wake up to more headlines regarding the spread of COVID-19. As cities limit travel, business hours, and even enact stay-at-home procedures, many people are experiencing extreme stress, confusion, and grief.

One doesn’t need to lose a loved one to experience grief during this time. There are so many other losses attached to living through a pandemic; some include: losing your job, a drastic decrease in 401K savings, the loss of privacy (since most of your family will be home), the inability to go to church, and the feeling of no longer being fully safe and secure.

This can be overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with several types of grief all at once. We’ve compiled some healthy tips and suggestions on how you can navigate this challenging time. We hope that these suggestions may bring you some comfort and peace.

Do Not Panic

Whenever we feel out of control, it can be very easy to panic. This is a normal human response to something so jarring and unusual. However, panicking is not necessary. It is good to be aware and alert to what is happening around you, but you must also remember that nothing in this world is permanent. If you find yourself slipping into a panic or anxiety attack try repeating the phrase “this too shall pass.” Try to think past what is happening now, and envision your life once this situation has resolved.

Limit Your News Intake

The 24 hour news cycle, while helpful in some ways, can really hinder your mental health. It is easy to read headline after headline about what’s happening in the world, and envision all the possible worst-case scenarios that may arise. While being informed is a good thing, try to limit your media exposure. Give yourself a limit each day on the amount of news you intake. When you do seek information, only check with trusted sources such as the CDC, WHO, and your local state government.

REMEMBER: There are many unreliable resources circling throughout the web. Only trust information from verified sources.

Connect with Family and Friends

It’s important during times of crisis to reach out to family and friends. Keeping in mind guidelines set by the CDC and your local government, perhaps a phone call or video chat would be best, especially if you’re reaching out to older friends or relatives. Talking frequently can help combat feelings of isolation or loneliness you may feel. This is also the time to care for others who may be included in at-risk groups. In many cases, caring for others is a wonderful way to channel extra energy you may have from anxiety or fear.

Explore Technology and New Hobbies

We are very lucky that we live in a modern age of technology. Not only does technology help us connect with others through video chatting and text, but it also opens the door to new hobbies and experiences. If you find yourself stuck at home, perhaps taking an online class on something you’re passionate about is a good idea. Maybe now is the time to do some genealogy research on your family. Maybe a favorite artist or talk show host of yours is sharing special videos on YouTube – you just need to take the time to explore! Technology aside, this time can be a chance to complete other tasks, such as preparing your garden, reading a good book, or doing a deep clean of your home. 

Spend Time with God  

While the world may feel out of control, there is one thing in our lives that we can always depend on – prayer. Prayer requires no supplies, no specific location, and no expectations. God is always waiting to be with us, and He will never waiver in supporting and comforting us during times of hardship. As the coronavirus continues on during our season of Lent, perhaps this is a time to enter deeply into Christ’s own journey through the desert. God is here to walk us through each step of every day. Place your trust in Him. Grow in your dependence on Him. The more you give to God, the less anxiety, fear, and grief you will feel.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr, American Theologian.
Post written by Katie Karpinski 

He Makes All Things New

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

– Revelations 21:3-4

Many of us are familiar with Revelations 21:3-4. The phrases used and the imagery depicted have brought comfort to those who are grieving, as the passage tells of a time when suffering will be no more and the concept of death no longer has a hold on us. But there is something more to this passage that doesn’t often make it to greeting cards and memorial services…

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelations 21:1-5

Revelations 21:1-5

Looking at the passage as a whole, we are told about God’s loving promise of renewal. God doesn’t simply erase pain from the world, He actually transforms the world and makes it new. This transformative change is a necessary part in God’s plan to bring us all into communion with Him.

We are called to embrace this idea in our everyday lives. Change is often seen as something to be afraid of, and sometimes new starts are more frightening than they are comforting. This is normal and part of the human experience. However, in times when a change in our life may seem overwhelming or too much to bear (such as losing a loved one) reminding yourself that change isn’t inherently destructive can expand your outlook. Change, while painful, can also lead to greater comfort and healing moving forward.

Whether we’re entering a new year, new season, or even a new day – we are called to embrace the newness and change that God places in our lives. Change is the catalyst to something new. No day is ever the same as the last. As we embrace this concept, we can learn to appreciate each new day as it comes to us, and embrace those bad days that are bound to happen. Just like everything in life, even our worst days will end, and a new day will begin.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

What to Expect When Attending a Grief Support Group

The Catholic Cemetery Association offers a safe and welcoming environment where the bereaved can come to be present with others who understand. The hardest parts of processing grief are best dealt with by talking about what you are feeling and realizing that most of what you experience is normal and eases over time.

Here are a few of the most common things to expect when attending one of our Grief Support Groups:

Relief/Clarity

You’ll find a sense of relief or freedom in being able to be open with your feelings.  Sometimes with family or friends, we tend to want to protect others from our hurt and pain and we don’t allow ourselves to fully experience the grief. We feel we have to be strong for them or we feel that we should be further along in our grieving. This is true especially if others in your family don’t “seem” to be grieving as much as you. Attending a support group can illustrate how everyone’s grief is personal and unique, and that everyone processes grief differently. In some cases, you may find new coping skills for common grief experiences.

Companionship

Our number one goal is for you to know that you do not have to be alone in your grief. Our support groups are designed to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for you to share your grief story and share experiences with other participants. While each grief experience is different, there is strength and comfort to be found in knowing you are not alone.

Diverse grief needs

There will be other participants in the group with varying degrees of grief. Some may have recently lost their loved one, and others may be working through a loss they experienced years ago. You may encounter others in the group who handle life in general differently from you. In our groups, we respect each person’s unique way of processing grief, without judgement. There are no wrong questions or feelings because your feelings are unique to your life experiences. In fact, these differences can provide you with a greater perspective in regard to grief and the healing process.

What NOT to expect:

Professional Counseling or Therapy

Our Group Facilitators are not psychologists or therapists, but rather trained specifically to help people understand what grief is and to encourage effective group discussions. We are able to help direct people in need of deeper grief work, to local resources for obtaining one-on-one or a specific type of grief counseling (widows, infant/child loss, accidental, traumatic/violence, suicide, substance abuse death, and other types of intense grief experiences).

A Quick Fix

Processing your grief is not a quick fix. It is not reasonable to expect to be back to “normal” in six months, or even a year. It takes time and patience as you work through painful emotions and life-altering changes.  But with a good support network at your side, you will find hope to take that next courageous step toward your new normal.

Grief will never be an easy journey, especially if you are attempting to journey it alone. Come and join a warm fellowship of people with similar grief experiences, helping each other through prayer, shared stories, and grief recovery discussions.

Post written by Kaleigh Rice

Content derived from interview with CCA Bereavement Coordinator, Rhonda Abrams.

8 Attainable Resolutions for the Bereaved

For those who have lost a loved one, new year’s resolutions come down to personal preference. For some, the idea of a resolution may seem too overwhelming at the time– similar to starting a new project or chore in the midst of extreme sorrow. For others, resolutions serve as an inspirational and motivational tool that helps them cope with grief and grow as a person. Whether or not you choose to take on a new year’s resolution is entirely up to you and where you are on your grief journey. However, if you are interested in taking on a new year’s resolution, keep reading for some ideas!

Recognize your strengths

Losing a loved one can install feelings of weakness or helplessness. Start the new year by making a list of your personal strengths, your blessings, and your dreams. Take action and leverage your strengths to accomplish new goals and cope with your grief.

Slow down

Make sure that you aren’t using a busy schedule or work life to cope with your grief. Not only does that make for an unhealthy healing, but it can also be emotionally and physically exhausting. Make a promise in this new year to slow down and take more time for yourself.

Attend a support group

Support groups are a great way to cope with your grief. Sharing experiences within a support group is a way for all involved to grieve in a healthy and constructive way. (Interested in joining a support group? Click here.)

Try a new hobby

It’s never too late to learn something new. If you feel stagnant or if you feel stuck, pick up a new hobby and see where it takes you. Whether it’s photography, sewing, or hiking– find something new to learn and enjoy to bring some excitement in your life.

Get 20 minutes of sunlight or fresh air each day

Fresh air and sunlight can do wonderful things for the mind, body, and spirit. While it may be tempting to stay indoors all day, try to get outside for at least 20 minutes each day. Even if it’s just in your backyard.

Speak your loved one’s name

Keep the memory of your loved one alive in the new year by speaking their name often. The key to grieving is not to forget, but to remember with hope that you will one day be reunited.

Start a journal

Journaling can be a great way to cope with grief and express your emotions. Think of journaling as a personal letter to God. What are you feeling? What are your hopes? Share these with him and see where the journey takes you. Try to make it a daily habit—God likes to hear from us every day.

Be open to happiness

While there will always be a part of you that misses your loved one dearly, never forget to be open to happiness and new experiences. Pay attention to the blessings God has placed in your life, big and small.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

5 Ways to Make Lasting Memories This Holiday Season

Family is one of God’s greatest gifts to us here on Earth. The time we spend with them is something we should never take for granted.  The memories we make during the holidays can become even more important, as children grow up, cherished friends move away, or loved ones leave this world. Memories can remind us of happy times and the joy the Lord brings to our lives, providing hope during life’s must difficult times.

While simply being with your family can certainly spark some lasting memories, there are some meaningful activities you can do together that you will remember for years to come. Keep reading to learn more.

5 Ways to Make Lasting Memories

Cook or bake something together

Food is a great way to build bonds and share special moments. It appeals to all of your senses – touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. With so many senses involved, the memories made while cooking can be some of the most vibrant ones you make. Whether it’s creating a new recipe or fine-tuning a traditional one, spending time in the kitchen together is always time well-spent.

Decorate an ornament

If your family enjoys putting the Christmas tree up every year, consider creating a family ornament (or a few!) each year. Creating ornaments together gives each family member a chance to express their personal creativity. In the end, your ornaments will display a piece of each of your family members, and will be something you cherish year after year as you put your tree up.

Take photos/video

This might seem obvious, but making an effort to take pictures and video during the holidays is one of the best ways to preserve memories. Pictures provide literal snapshots of cherished family moments. It can also be fun to capture seemingly boring family rituals, such as snapping a few photos at a family dinner or getting a picture of the stockings hung on the fireplace. Whatever the case, photos are something you can physically hold on to as the years go by… just make sure the photos don’t overshadow the actual quality time you’re spending with your family!

Go somewhere new

Sometimes the best way to create a new memory is to go somewhere new! Experiencing something new as a family is exciting and will surely be something you remember for years to come. Maybe it’s seeing a new Christmas light show, visiting a special sledding hill, or even taking a winter walk through your local park. In any case, stepping outside your comfort zone is a great way to grow as a family, and maybe even create a new tradition!

Celebrate traditions

Speaking of new traditions, celebrating family traditions year after year is a great way to remember our loved ones and create lasting memories. Since traditions span decades and generations, participating in a special family custom each year can help your family feel more connected, both to those still on this earth and those who are no longer with us. While traditions may change and evolve with time, don’t underestimate the impact they can make on you and your family.

What are some ways you and your family create memories? Let us know in the comments below!

Post written by Katie Karpinski