Navigating COVID Times Together

Date posted: Thursday 03 June 2021

It’s no secret that the COVID pandemic created or exacerbated isolation, and emphasized the importance of mental health. We weren’t able to gather, which made it difficult to feel connected in any meaningful way.


Through the Saint Paul Area Synod’s Mental Health Mini Grant, Easter Church was able to offer a series called “Navigating COVID Times Together.” The three-part series ran on Tuesdays, March 9-23 on Zoom. It gave people the tools they needed to express their sadness, grief, loss, depression and exhaustion. The series also offered helpful tips for practicing self-care and developing resilience for life during and beyond COVID.


Grief & Loss

On March 9, Rabbi Lynn Liberman, BCC, and Tara Burns, MA, from the Jewish Family Service of St. Paul created a safe space for us to name our losses, from physical touch to a sense of stability and security. We also learned the signs of grief, including tension in the body, low energy or fatigue, frustration, shock, appetite increase or decrease, anxiety, sadness, and more. The speakers gave us a few helpful tips for how to build resilience and adapt during these times:

  • Acknowledge what you’re feeling
  • Find ways to express your grief
  • Limit your news reading/watching
  • Seek social opportunities/support
  • Exercise and healthy eating
  • Create a daily routine
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Gratefulness
  • Help others
  • Live in the moment



Building on what we learned about grief and loss in the first session, therapist Michael Borowiak, MSW, LICSW with Traverse Counseling and Consulting helped us understand when grief turns into depression. At the second session on March 16, Michael showed us how to recognize depression and how to help ourselves and others. We learned how depression presents itself at all stages of life, and when to seek professional help. He also gave practical tips on how to help other, including what to say and what not to say.

“How can I help?”Offer something specific (like food)
“But you look so happy!”"You’ve been hiding this pain for some time"
“Just pray about it”“Can I pray with and for you?”
“Here is what you should do…”"It is really hard to see the ‘right’ thing to do"
“Is it really that bad? Are you overreacting?”"Something about this situation is really hard"
“I had that happen to me, too”“Tell me what this is like for you”
“The Lord works in mysterious ways”“It can be hard to see God in all of this pain…”

There was so much helpful information that it’s challenging to offer a brief summary. The recording of Michael’s presentation is available on our website at


Self Care

For the final presentation in the series on March 23, Tara Giese, MSW, LISW with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota shared information on self-care.  She talked about practical ways to recharge ourselves and build resilience. We learned about the importance of self-care in maintaining our mental health and well-being. More than just taking a hot bath, self-care is an activity undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress. Tara also taught us how to look after our physical, relational, and spiritual health at work and how to ask for help.


Through the “Navigating COVID Times Together” series, each speaker shared about the importance of gratitude - no matter our circumstance. Gratitude helps build resilience, improves mental health, reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness, and can help us lead more joy-filled lives. More than a tool for navigating a pandemic, gratitude is a way of life. Can you think of three things you are grateful for today?


  • I’m grateful for these mental health mini-grants through the Saint Paul Area Synod
  • I’m grateful for our guest speakers and their expertise and care
  • I’m grateful for you and all God is doing through you today


Speakers in the series:

Rabbi Lynn Liberman, BCC, and Tara Burns, MA


Michael Borowiak, MSW, LICSW with Traverse Counseling and Consulting


Tara Gies, MSW, Statewide Program Director Caregiver and Companion Services

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota


– The Rev. Brandon Newton

Easter Lutheran Church, Eagan


Click here for more information about the synod's mental health grants.