Wednesday, January 6th will now be remembered as one of the most turbulent days in American history. It will also be remembered, for me and my United Methodist family here in my hometown, as the day we lost a beloved member of our group to covid-19. On top of trying to cope with the horrific reality of the events that transpired in D.C. that day, I found out that after spending two weeks on a ventilator, our friend Hannah tragically lost her battle with the virus.

Hannah was effortlessly kind, always willing to be a listening ear and shoulder to lean on for whoever needed her. She was a sweet soul, and to say that her loss has been devastating for us is putting things too lightly.

I’ve been struggling this week to handle my grieving process. Things have been so turbulent this first week of 2021, and it’s felt like I’m not allowed to focus on grieving her. Granted, part of that is my fault. I will admit that I’ve been obsessively analyzing the domestic terrorism that unfolded at the capital, and making myself angry over the failure of so many to finally reject Donald Trump for his role in it. I’m working on taking a step back, and remembering that while it’s good to take an interest in current events, delving too deep into this particular one isn’t good for my emotional well-being. Especially when I’m grieving.

Work this past week has been a chaotic mess, largely due to our store manager leaving us for a new job elsewhere. Our thrift store has been struggling to ensure that we have enough managers to help the store make it through, and we’ve been incredibly busy on top of that. As such, I’ve been unable to focus on Hannah these last few days because my job constantly demanded my attention.

Having to focus on multiple other things in my life clamoring for my attention has sucked the life out of me. I’ve slept poorly all week long, and all day today I’ve felt extremely irritable. More than anything else, I want to shout this to the rest of the world:

“Shut up and let me grieve!”

After realizing that my inability to focus on my grief over Hannah’s passing has been the source of my recent irritability, I was able to have a very cathartic crying moment tonight. I needed it, badly.

Nobody ever thinks that any of their friends will die young. None of us thought that we would lose a beloved member of our group to the virus. We’re all still grappling with the shock and despair that comes with losing her.

And oh boy, am I livid knowing that there are still people out there who think this pandemic is a joke, or even a hoax. I highly doubt that Hannah, who spent two weeks on a ventilator fighting for her life, thought that this was a media scam, the flu, or whatever crackpot conspiracy people have created about the virus. Subscribing to that nonsense is a cruel slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of victims COVID-19 has claimed, and to those who continue to grieve their loss.

Despite all of my anger and immense sadness, my heart takes comfort in the memories Hannah and the rest of our church group made together over the years. They will lift my spirits as I continue to work through my grieving process.

We love you, Hannah.

Hannah and I, comically aghast at something displeasing during church work camp 2009.
A sweet group photo of our church team at our 2012 work camp in Joplin 💙

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4