How pandemic equals grief, even for the healthy

When I met Stacy Sanders, director of chaplains and bereavement services at Hospice of East Texas, he joked about being a slow talker. This has to do with more than his Arkansas roots. Stacy spends most of his conversation time listening. When he speaks to families who are losing a loved one, he wants to provide time to process and a warm presence. He is sensitive to their raw, numb state and feelings of anxiety.

Hearing his story, I decided his slow, calm demeanor was a perfect response to these COVID times. Whether in sickness or in health, all of us are needing space to process. Stacy’s training gives him insight into feelings of loss during a pandemic, even when we and our family members remain physically healthy.

Stacy wasn’t shy about being real. His understanding of grief and loss extended beyond his professional work and into stories about his best friend and his parents.

The Tyler Loop stands by its mission to develop shared understanding in our diverse and growing city. Stacy’s voice is yet another in the chorus of our East Texas neighbors. My hope is that seeing Stacy’s video can help provide a sense of connection and solidarity, now more than ever.

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Jane Neal is the executive director of The Tyler Loop and storytelling director of Out of the Loop: True Stories about Tyler and East Texas. In addition to the Loop, she works at the Literacy Council of Tyler and attends Sam Houston State University remotely, where she studies sociology. Jane is a certified interfaith spiritual guide. She is a member of Leadership Tyler Class 33 and a former teacher of French at Robert E. Lee High School, where she ran a storytelling program called Senior Stories. Jane and her husband Don have four children.