On October 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation, “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” At that historic time of divisive war, no one was spared from grief. Everyone lost someone or something - a loved one, their property, their human dignity, or an old way of life.


Though we may master forgiveness, forgetting is sometimes easier said than done. Even if we’ve done the work of forgiveness, when the dying embers of troubled memories are fanned to life by some reminder, especially during the holiday season, it’s not always our first impulse to douse the flames with the water of forgiving and forgetting. Sometimes we’d rather just get cozy, make some s’mores, and enjoy the roaring bonfire of our hurt and indignation.


As slowly the holiday season begins to encroach on the sacred space reserved for the one we love and now grieve, many experience a sense of dread and foreboding. We are susceptible to every reminder of the one we love who will no longer be part of the occasions of our life as those around us feast and celebrate. In the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay, “The presence of that absence is everywhere.” Inevitably, grief will be part of our holiday gathering with friends and family.

Our Saints in Circulation

The experience of grief is intimate and personal. After the final words of comfort and encouragement are spoken, family and guests depart, the flowers wilt, and the last casserole is frozen or consumed, we withdraw to a place of emotional and spiritual freedom where we can memorialize our loved one more privately than publicly. Whether we invite others one by one into the sacred space of our grief, or share our story of life and love in community, or we open our heart to close family members, acquaintances, or even relative strangers, we put our saints in circulation.

The Faith of Grief

The hardscrabble faith of grief is altogether different from an unbruised faith that has not been tried and tested by a firsthand experience of death, life’s most certain inevitability. If our world has been inverted by the death of one we love, for a while our faith may seem muddled as we ask hard questions that test the truth of what we say we believe.

Collective Grief

As the world watched in stunned disbelief, on August 8, 2023, the historic town of Lahaina in Hawaii was all but destroyed by raging wildfires driven by high winds. According to Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen, “Tragedy that hits one of us is felt by all of us. These past few days, the resolve of our families, businesses and visitors have been tested like never before in our lifetime.”  

The Questions of Grief

If you are grieving the death of someone you love, you may be searching for answers to some of life’s most challenging questions, including the ‘why?’ of death. After my beloved husband  died, I was desperate to understand what happened. I knew that in order to go through grief, I needed answers to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to make sense of my grief before I could move forward again in life. Although I sorted out the ‘why’ of his illness, the ‘why’ of my grief was another matter entirely. 

Gifts of Grief

When we reach the crossroads of grief, for a while we stand in the middle of the road. When we take a look backward, we see the long, winding road we’ve travelled on the journey through grief. When we look in the other direction, we see the unknown road that will lead us toward renewed hope, recovered love, and belief in the future.

Where is God?

With alarming frequency we stand as helpless bystanders to rolling acts of senseless violence and share in the grief of parents, family, friends, educators, entire communities, and indeed the world. As we bear witness to the unthinkable, a sense of our own powerlessness seeps into every corner of life. The bedrock of our faith and the beliefs at the heart of all we hold dear are tested and shaken. From the depths of our soul we ask, “Where is God?” We want to know. We insist on answers when there are none. We question, we probe our faith, and again ask, “Where is God?”


When we grieve often it's simply not possible to find words that adequately express our sorrow, our pain, and our inmost needs.

Don't Miss the Spring

During the worst of times, the changing seasons remind us of the steady, faithful presence of God, “for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” (Song of Solomon 2:11). In spring, the beauty of nature holds the promise of new life—daffodils emerging from the earth, the rich colors of tulips in bloom, the first tentative azaleas in bud. Trees seem to burst into full leaf almost overnight. As surely as spring fades, inevitably nature moves toward the heat of summer, the first chill of autumn, and the cold of winter.

The Anger of Grief

Anger is a common emotional reaction to our physical separation from a loved one. For many, anger is a very real part of the experience of grief when someone we love dies. Anger is a normal response to the seeming injustice of death. When we grieve, we’re not prepared for how it feels to be angry.
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