Travel and Grief in a Pandemic

cancelled flight

Last week I was supposed to be in New York spending some time with my family for my dad’s birthday. When I booked my flight back at the beginning of June, we still had low numbers of new cases in Idaho, I had an e-credit to use from a different cancelled trip from this fall, and flights were as cheap as I have ever seen them to Albany or Syracuse. I booked my flight knowing that things could change and I might not get to go, but I would not have guessed that it would be because of New York State restrictions on travelers from states, including Idaho, which are experiencing over a 10% increase in their weekly average of cases. Even though I tried not to get too excited, and I talked about it more as a hopefully I will go, having to cancel has still been tough. Knowing I was so close to getting to see my family and now having that change again because of the pandemic. Having to cancel or change plans is getting harder because of all the unknowns around when we will all be able to easily make plans again. It is hard not to know when you will get to see and hug your family again. And many of us are experiencing this in these days of travel restrictions and increasing cases.

We are all in a time of learning and figuring out new ways of doing things. I know I am not the only one who has had to cancel travel plans or events because of the chaos going on in the world around us these past few months. In the midst of all of the cancelations and changes we may have feelings that we don’t know how to express or that we don’t even realize we are feeling. Small things might be making us feel big emotions, especially as all the small cancelations seem to be piling up. We may wonder, is grief over the cancellation of a trip really grief? The answer is yes. A loss is a loss, no matter how big or small. And with loss comes grief, as we process and cope with what we have lost. We have had to cancel and change plans, probably multiple times, and that brings feelings of loss. A loss of what was planned and hoped for. A loss of a vacation or time with friends and family. A loss of certainty and routine in our daily lives. We are all experiencing loss in some way right now, therefore we are all experiencing grief in our own ways as well.

In this time where some of us are experiencing great losses, it can be easy to try to compare our own losses to the losses of others. To tell ourselves that the loss of a trip or event is not a loss when compared to those who have lost loved ones and jobs. To feel that a trip is not something big enough to feel grief over. However, it is important to remember that no matter the size, a loss is still a loss. And just like we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, we also should not compare our losses to the losses others are experiencing. It is not fair to ourselves to diminish what we are feeling, because grief over any loss is real and valid. It can also be important for us to name our loss, because naming it can help us process it. It can be helpful to talk about it with others to process externally what we are feeling. Especially because right now we are often subconsciously processing more than we realize with all that is going on.

As we continue through this time full of cancelations, unknowns, and loss, I pray that you have spaces to connect with others and to share and process how your losses are affecting you.

Sara Manning

Sara Manning

Director of Youth, Family, and Education Ministries
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Boise

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mary Braudrick

    Perfectly expressed. Thank you for this reminder. God is certainly with us in our grieving.

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