Cato and Freya have been grieving, since Heathcliff died in June. Twelve-year-old Freya keeps mostly to herself, but three-year-old Cato has seemed lost. For a while, he refused breakfast, as Heathcliff had toward the end, and curled in his crate. Freya has done her best to comfort him, as here.
Writing about Grieving
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NIV)
Sometimes we experience a season of grieving, a cluster of loss, weeping, and mourning. For us, it started two years ago with the death of my ex-husband. A year after that, my mother’s death. The following year, Heathcliff.
Three years, three deaths, three graces—and I wrote about them all.
I’ve also read about grieving experiences, as in Carol Smith’s Crossing the River. Or Lutheran Pastor Rev. James E. Laurence’s sermon on mourning, posted on his blog this past weekend. Or Edie Melson’s newly released guide, Soul Care When You’re Grieving.
Reading about Grieving
In Soul Care When You’re Grieving, Melson faces grieving’s hard stuff—denial, anger, bargaining, depression then acceptance—but focuses on the opposites: moving past denial, letting go of anger, learning to live with what cannot be changed, welcoming joy after loss, and embracing a new attitude. “My bottom line is this,” she writes, I’m going to learn how to hang on and extract every bit of sweetness and purpose from today, even if the world turns me upside down.”
As with Melson, I experience the sweet presence and peace of God most strongly when outside in His creation. Nature puts me in the “now,” reminds me that nothing stays the same, and leads me to appreciate moments of lingering beauty here at Vanaprastha. But there are challenges, for Melson, too.
“Traveling with God is a lot like my trip to the top of the mountain. At times, it’s filled with frustration as I don’t appear to be going the direction I’d planned. But the process is filled with faith-stretching exercises that ultimately bring me into a closer fellowship with God. And while the climb to the top is hard, the perspective and view is always worth the faith-journey.”
We do not journey or grieve alone. We live in community. “The family of God may not always be visible, but they are there when we need them, ready to spring into action when called upon.”
Praying about Grieving
Yesterday, we celebrated All Saints Day in humility and hospitality. Reading the Word, praying, abiding with one another. Hope. Melson: “It’s fine to mourn what we’ve lost, but it’s equally important to continue on, learning from the hard parts and celebrating what’s to come.”
As I leave this season of grieving and embrace the dance of life, community living is what I’m working on—as with this month’s post for The Perennial Gen.
Writing. Reading. Praying. Community. Until it’s time to die.
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We have been walking with my mother since the tragic passing of her beloved Ed, my stepfather. The journey has strengthened our bonds with her. Blessings to you and Keith.
I’m sorry to hear about your family’s loss, Richard. Grieving is a special kind of suffering, from which we can grow.
I will keep you and your mother in my prayers. -C.D.