Reconciliation

Reconciling ourselves to the death of one we love is one of the steepest and longest hills we climb on our journey through grief. Reconciliation is a continuous process of adjustment and acceptance, with a few stops and setbacks along the way. read more »

Grief in the New Year

Time does not stand still for those who grieve. read more »

Regifting

Regifting simply means that you give on to someone else a gift that you yourself have received. The practice of regifting has probably always been around, perhaps to a somewhat lesser degree in times of marginal prosperity, but in recent years it has become more openly popular and gained in general acceptance. The urge to recycle our stuff in the name of regifting comes from a self-interested desire to rid ourselves of something we don’t need or want and will never use. read more »

The Orphans

The Dallas Arboretum is an urban oasis of both natural and man-made beauty on the banks of a lake not far from downtown. This beautiful place has been a refuge for me, especially since the death of my beloved husband. Before Leighton died we enjoyed going there together; after he died it became my grieving place. I can sit there “beside still waters” in every season of the year to think, journal, and remember. On a crisp December afternoon one year three days before Christmas, I went to the Arboretum to reflect on the season in a peaceful moment of “all is calm, all is bright.” When I left “my” bench I was refreshed by the exquisite beauty of the clear, cool day and the feeling of being far removed from the noise of the city and the season. read more »

The Noise of Christmas

On a museum visit one summer, an exhibit I especially wanted to see was strategically located in a remote corner on the top floor. Perhaps the idea was to get visitors to hike through some of the less-frequented areas. Indeed, it was quite a trek to find the room on the map and make my way down the long, winding corridors. When I got there, I was alone. It seemed I was the only person interested in blue and white porcelain that day. read more »

Into the Woods

In the first chapter of Luke we read, “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” We need God’s light and guidance on our journey of grief as we make our way through the vast forest of our spiritual and emotional pain. At Christmas, our thoughts and feelings are especially attuned to both the absence and the presence of the one we love and grieve. read more »

Forgetting

Even if we have done the work of forgiveness, when the dying coals of pain, bad memories, and negative experiences are fanned to life by some reminder from the past, it is not always our first response to douse the flames, especially at the holidays. Sometimes we had rather just cozy up to the fire, make some s’mores, and warm our indignation by the roaring fire of our hurt and self-justification. read more »

Forgiving

When we grieve, the holidays can seem like a kaleidoscopic emotional blur. Our spirit spins. Deep within our being we feel the chaotic contradiction of sorrow and seasonal joy, sadness and holiday cheer, loneliness and festive gatherings. read more »

A Future

When life as we know it has been brought to a standstill by the death of one we love, the future we once imagined, perhaps even relied upon as a certainty, is no more. Our hopes, our dreams, our inmost desire for fulness of life beyond the horizon of today are unalterably shaken. And though remnants of our ideal longings may survive the finality of death, the fragile ruins of the future we once envisioned become a commentary on our past. read more »

Seeing Eyes

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in December, I attended the funeral of a woman whose husband I knew and wanted to support. He was an adoring, loving spouse, in every way a faithful servant who cared for his wife throughout her long decline from Alzheimer’s disease. The service was a fitting tribute to a joyful life well-lived in love and service to her family, her church, and others. read more »

Collective Grief

In our present society, we’re continuously confronted with acts of violence that are at once shocking and simply unimaginable. The picture of a desperate, heartbroken mother with the cross of Ash Wednesday still freshly signed on her forehead told the story this week of the shock, destruction, and despair that devastated the community of Parkland, Florida on a holy day of remembrance. read more »

Whole Life

When my husband died in the dark hours of a hot July night, I felt God’s powerful, unmistakable presence in that dim, dingy hospital room. In a bright, shining moment I am certain that God transported Leighton’s soul to eternal life. And yet his body, emptied of his spirit, breathed on for another two long hours. When at last my beloved took his final breath, I felt abandoned—by him and by God. read more »

The Angel Wore Sneakers

…not just any old work shoes, but hot pink sneakers with shiny silver stripes that peeked out from the bottom of her sensible khaki pants. This particular angel had bright yellow curly hair, the perfect complement to her sunny disposition. Her job was to arrange and maintain the Christmas floral arrangements in the large gothic dining room of an historic estate house open to the public. She was the “flower lady”, responsible for artfully brightening this moody space with its soaring cathedral ceilings through the vibrant beauty of fresh seasonal flowers. read more »

Collateral Grief

We’re continuously confronted with acts of violence that are at once shocking and simply unimaginable. Often, we flounder for what it is we should be feeling. Sometimes we’re surprised by our delayed reaction when our emotions—anger, outrage, disbelief, contempt— finally bubble to the surface. Yet at the far reach of our bewilderment, we find our emotional identity with what’s happened. This is collateral grief, our most fundamental response to the pain and suffering of others, expressed as heartfelt compassion. read more »

Commonwealth Grief

Beyond its accustomed use to designate a federation of states, a commonwealth is also defined as any group of persons united by some common interest. In the face of senseless violence, tragic death, and random injury, as occurred in recent weeks and days especially in London and Manchester, those of us who are helpless bystanders are most certainly part of a commonwealth. read more »

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