It’s been ten weeks now since I last sat in my church’s sanctuary. For more than two months, we’ve streamed Sunday worship online, emailed encouraging weekday devotionals, and texted prayer requests. Our church has worked hard to keep our community connected, but we all feel a similar longing: We can’t wait to be together in person.
While I am genuinely excited for the return to gathered worship and face-to-face interactions at church, I am anxious, too. I know all too well how complicated a return to church can be. Like the thousands of churchgoers who will trickle back as sanctuary doors reopen, our family has endured the complicated task of returning to church with a new, unwelcome visitor named grief.
After my husband’s unexpected death, my children and I found, to our deep disappointment, that the familiar rhythms of our former life now felt strange. School and relationships—even with family and close friends—became awkward and unwieldy. And ...1