600,000: A Prayer for the Grief We Hold

Today, on June 15, 2021, the U.S. hit 600,000 lives lost from the covid-19 pandemic. I wrote this prayer in response, thinking of our collective grief.

— — — — — — — — — -

God who wept, acquainted with sorrow,
Your tear-streaked face and snot-smeared cloak
were visible signs of how deeply you loved.

You said “yes” to the fullness of human experience,
and you know what it means to hold grief.

So hold us in our grief today.

Hold us who feel the weight of 600,00 intimately-
in the empty space of a bed once occupied,
the missing chair at our dinner tables,
the pangs felt on birthdays and holidays,
the impulse to share a joy or a sorrow,
the cruelty of our loved ones dying alone,
the echoes of a laugh now mere memory,
the regrets of things left unsaid and undone,
the dreams we had that were stolen too soon,
the children forging futures without their parents,
the injustice of a virus marked by disparities.

Hold us who feel the weight of 600,000 secondarily-
in the feelings of guilt at having been spared from much,
the numbness from unrelenting trauma and loss,
the unrelenting nature of every uncertainty,
the anger at our value for profit over people,
the limitations of our heart to keep caring and responding,
the disorientation around our friendships and futures,
the loss of social skills, the fear of other people,
the dryness of our eyes, the aches in our backs,
the exhaustion of being perpetually exhausted.

Remind us on this day,
that we don’t carry this weight alone.

And as the world is opening up all around us,
the pressure to return to “normal” mounts,
gently remind us.

Grief takes time and space;
it demands our attention
so that we can grow alongside of it
instead of being consumed by it.

Help us to see You as the one acquainted with grief,
so that we might choose to get acquainted with ours.

Amen.

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