Voice of the Vestry – Fall Reflection

by Kathryn Holl

Grief.  It is part of daily life.  Sometimes, like waves on water it ripples through our soul, then subsides, hardly noticeable within our being.  At other times, it is tumultuous, a full on body-slam with intense physical, spiritual and emotion discomfort or pain.   Grief is not linear and there is no time frame. It is constantly moving, ever- changing and truly unpredictable.

Grief arises out of loss.  Loss of a loved one, loss due to illness, a move, loss of job, loss of friends, changes in life situations, pet death and other life altering experiences.  Individuals experience grief on a personal level and on a societal level due to suffering of humanity.

Any transitional experience can be the spark for stress and strain in our normal lives.  We cannot ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist, though our society hardly provides understanding for the grieving process.  We need to tend to our grief, to be gentle with ourselves and each other and to reach out to a community of supportive and understanding family and friends.  We need to find those who “get it”.

It is in acceptance that we begin to find a gentler, kinder experience with grief.  Acceptance is demonstrated in models used in the Grief field today. Alan Wolfelt’s “Companioning” model uses The 6 Tasks of Mourning . You can read more at www.Centerforloss.com.    A second model is found in the book Finding My Way by John M.Schneider, PhD.  There he counsels us to be with our grief through three questions:

  1. What is Lost?
  2. What Remains?
  3. What is possible?

Education is valuable in understanding what is occurring through the grief process. Importantly being educated on the subject connects us with the universality of grief.  It is good to learn that “feeling like you are losing your mind” is a normal reaction to grief as are physical manifestations that beset many.  Individuals learn that feeling joy is part of grief as well as sadness. We learn all reactions to a loss are unique depending on our individual natures and relationships to the loss.

We do not get over grief, we go through it.  It changes us forever. This change can be a time when individuals have the greatest opportunity for transformation.  As mourners we walk through pain, remember our loss, honor our relationships, honestly address the difficulties of grief and find courage to turn our pain into a meaningful life, making it possible for transformation to occur.  I know that resilience comes from the acknowledgement of the loss, from a supportive community, a strong faith and the trust that change can be meaningful. If ever there is the feeling God has abandoned, we will again feel the presence of His peace in a renewed relationship to faith, community and family.

I do marvel at the resilience and determination for those facing a health crisis or experiencing the loss of a spouse, partner, child, friend. We can turn to one another to understand, to listen and to be a community of Grace.  Take time to be gentle with yourself and with others, listening, praying and staying present to the moment.

The Well of Grief      by David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath

the still surface on the well of grief

turning down through its black water

to a place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,

the secret water cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering,

the small round coins,

thrown by those who wished for something else.



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