Who doesn’t love a parade? On Palm Sunday, we reenact a parade through Jerusalem: Jesus, mounted on a donkey, clops through the streets, and we cheer, “Hosanna” and wave our palms. But every year, this parade fills me anticipatory grief, a feeling of dread and fear. Every Palm Sunday, I want to push through the crowds, grab the reigns of the donkey, and lead Jesus to safety and away from the crowds and the events of Holy Week.
I recently learned the term “anticipatory grief” from an article in the Harvard Business Review. Many behavioral health consultants believe that during this time of pandemic we are experiencing an anticipatory grief. It is a sense of sorrow, fear and grief for what we all expect may happen. In the article, Dr. David Kessler states, “Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it.” We ask ourselves, “Will I succumb to the Coronavirus? Will my family and friends be so sick that they die?” It can also involve an anticipatory grief for dreams of financial security like retirement and dream vacations as we watch our retirement accounts and savings dwindle.
Dr. Kessler is an expert in trauma recovery and a collaborator with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross on the stages of grief and dying. His advice for during this time is to notice the stages of grief. We start with denial, “this isn’t happening.” We morph into anger and then sadness. Finally, we find control in acceptance, “this is real, but I can wash my hands. I can keep a safe distance. I can learn to work virtually.”
Dr. Kessler adds one more stage of grief: meaning. To heal from the grief of this time, we need to find meaning in our lives. Notice the moments of grace in the darkness. Celebrate the technology that can keep us connected. Rejoice in the signs of spring as you walk outside.
Though we cannot stop Jesus as he walks though this Holy Week, we can seek the meaning of his crucifixion and death. We can seek the meaning in our own lives. How did Jesus’ parade through Jerusalem and eventual death change our lives 2000 years later? How will this pandemic change our lives as we seek the meaning of our lives? My question to all of us is, “How will I become a better person as I weather this time?” How can live as Jesus would want me to?”
The Rev. Jane Milliken Hague
Appointed readings for today:
Liturgy of the Palms:
Liturgy of the Word