Many of us have been there, in high anticipation of THE BIG DAY. The venue selected, invitations sent, the photographer and DJ under contract, bridal attire on order and the cake maker chosen. THE cake! YOUR cake. The one like no other ever displayed and shared at a reception. All the months of planning, spending, deciding, done, and at last there is an appointment on the calendar, “our wedding day.” Then “Bam!” COVID-19 strikes! The appointment on the calendar turns into disappointment…crushing disappointment. How can you have a wedding when the orders are social distancing and no public gatherings until further notice. That hurts.
Hundreds of thousands of couples are in this situation right now and with them all the folks who make a wedding happen, wedding planners, caterers, florists, venue owners…. you get the picture. The trickle down economic impact of a canceled wedding is both seen and felt in these challenging times.
Of course there are always those who say unhelpful things. “Why are you so upset?” “It’s just a wedding.” “Nobody died!” “Pick another day.” Now all of those statements are true, but that doesn’t ease the disappointment. In fact, it sounds downright dismissive.
When disappointment comes, we can support those we love with some very simple steps:
When someone is hurt, a listening ear is a gift. Listening deeply carves out a path for pain to be expressed and not internalized. If someone trusts you to hear their problem, reserve opinions and suggestions until they ask. The initial hurt is raw and feels like a gut punch. One of my professors in seminary often said, “Listening is loving.” I think that is true.
Affirming simply means, “I do hear you. I can see this is devastating to you and I understand you feel awful right now.” Affirmation is a commitment to hold a space for a hurting person’s words and feelings. We hold space for others without judgment.
To sympathize with a wounded person is is to feel with them and for them. It is not pity. It is kindness laced with respect.
Engaged couples everywhere have been dealt a blow by this highly contagious virus and they are hurting. They need time and tenderness. True, there are more pressing issues in the world, but it helps to realize that disappointment is pressing too. Listen deeply and well. It is the most valuable wedding gift you can give.
Pastor Fresh Air Community of Faith