Disenfranchised Grief: The Pandemic, a Bonfire, All Saints’ Chapel, & the Election

During the pandemic all of us have experienced disenfranchised grief which is hidden grief or sorrow, that goes unacknowledged or unvalidated by social norms. Normally, when grief occurs, we have rituals to help us process the sorrow. Think about what teenagers do when they break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend as they put on comfy clothes, watch a sad movie, listen to love songs, eat ice cream, and receive support from friends. The support and rituals help the grieving process occur.   

The pandemic has created a tremendous amount of grief but we do not have rituals for such times of grief. How do we grieve a pandemic that has cost us a chance to be with loved ones during a funeral? How do we grieve the loss of a graduation, a job, or companionship? As a result, we find ourselves experiencing the five stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance.  

Last week, campus ministry started a ritual called a prayer bonfire. The prayer bonfire is a bonfire to roast marshmallows and eat smores. The prayer bonfire is also an opportunity to pray as students write down a prayer, a confession, a struggle, a lament, a complaint, or anything else they want God to hear. Then they place those cards into the bonfire and allow the smoke to carry the prayer to God. It is beautiful. This Wednesday at 7pm we will have another prayer bonfire outside the Humphrey building near the basketball courts.   

For today’s chapel, we will mourn our dead. We will meet at the Lyceum at 11:00 and say the names of those we mourn. For those who cannot make chapel, here is a video from last Sunday’s service. After the sermon is a time of prayer where you can say the name of a loved one you mourn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUbOS76rI4o 

Today is also election day and it is already filled with great anxiety. No matter the results, there will be many grieving on our campus. For this reason, we will be providing many opportunities to pray in the next week. See below for a schedule of events. In addition, In the upcoming weeks I will provide important resources from Braver Angels to help encourage civil discourse in the following weeks.  

As a final word, know that it is very natural to experience grief and anxiety. God made us to have emotions to help us process difficult moments. This is such a moment. At Grand View you have professors, staff, and friends to help you through these times. If you find yourself feeling alone, know that you are not. And know that you are loved.  

With love, 

Pastor Russ