When talking about the rise in COVID-19 related deaths, many often speak about those lost and not those left behind.
Chaplain, spiritual director and Middlefield resident Lisa Irish will be hosting an online workshop for those grieving over loss or separation because of the pandemic.
“We’re conditioned to understand that grief comes after a death so we’re waiting for all of this to be done, in a way,” said Irish. “But as we can see, it’s an unfolding that may not be ‘done’ in the way that a person dies and there’s a conclusion to the deal. But it’s an ongoing loss.”
The workshop will be presented by Madison’s Mercy by the Sea Retreat and Conference Center — a spiritual retreat center — on May 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. The cost is $40 per participant.
“We have been closed since late March but we have kept our grounds open for people to enjoy them,” said Mercy Program Associate Karin Nobile. “We wanted there to be a continuation of our services that we would be able to hold virtually.”
Nobile said that Mercy “could not conceivably” cancel an event that was focused on bereavement during a pandemic.
“We are in an unprecedented time of grief and loss,” she said.
Mercy already has over 20 registrants from eight different states.
“We’re in this collective grief experience, we’re all anticipating something, but it’s mysterious,” said Irish. “People who are attracted to this program are coming in because of their loss – this mother, this cousin, this child. But what’s happening is that ‘Jane’s’ loss doesn’t get the kind of community support that she would get at any other time.”
This has created a phenomenon Irish calls “disenfranchised loss.” This is the idea that those experiencing grief may not be receiving greater community support because their loss has been folded into the greater tragedy of the pandemic.
Irish hopes that this program will help people fully address their grief.
Participants will have the chance to break out into smaller groups of three or four to share their experiences.
“There’s difficult grief and loss everyday. But those who enter it, who befriend the grief, can move a little farther, can find a way through and can reenter life. And of course when they reenter life, they’re changed,” Irish said.
Those looking for detailed information on Irish’s program can visit https://www.mercybythesea.org/.