Intermittent Grief

Intermittent grief is the faithful tap-tap-tapping on the window of our soul that gets our attention and transports us to the place of personal grief forever reserved for the one we love. Long after the tears of shock subside and we begin to think that we are better, time and again grief reaches into our heart to remind us of our loss. It surprises us, especially when we are unprepared to deal with it.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Sometimes a new perspective on a single word or idea can penetrate our uneven grief emotions and get our attention in an unexpected way. It is the light bulb effect, the “aha” moment when we at last understand some deeper truth that gives us unexpected insight into the nature of God. When this happens, we are strengthened and inspired to move forward in our grief.

Unison Grief

Beyond the definition of a commonwealth as a federation of states, it is also any group of persons united by some common interest. In the face of a global pandemic or senseless violence, those who are helpless onlookers are most certainly part of a commonwealth. As we join hands and hearts across continents and the continuum of life, we grieve in unison for each individual who is lost to us in death and for every person who survives and grieves.

Where is God?

When a virus erupts, causes a pandemic, and brings the entire world to its knees, there are only questions—what caused this, why, how? The kind of global tragedy that has unfolded over the past months is shattering, it’s life-altering on every level as our powerlessness seeps into each small corner of our life. It tests our faith and shakes the very foundation of our life and all we hold dear. From the depths of our mind and heart we may 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?”

Don't Miss the Spring

At this time of unprecedented crisis the entire world is single-minded in its focus on the prevention and containment of the coronavirus. And while this daunting challenge may well stretch our healthcare resources and financial fortitude for an as yet unknown period of time, our innate survival instinct can easily overwhelm the rest of life still going on around us. We shop, stock up, and even hoard sufficient supplies to calm our momentary sense of helplessness at least for a while.

Confronting Fear

In his book A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis wrote, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” And though fear is a normal part of the experience of grief, most often grief magnifies our human capacity for fear. Eighteenth century philosopher and politician Edmund Burke wrote, “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” When we grieve, fear seems to ambush us when we are unprepared to defend ourselves. And when something as small as a microbe represents a threat to our global safety and well-being, we easily succumb to fear, anxiety and, in the worst case, a kind of subdued hysteria largely driven by irrational though very real questions such as "Am I going to die?" which are the inevitable subtext of catastrophic events.

Grief and Lent

The premise of Lent is that it is a time of spiritual introspection and self-examination that can lead us toward a renewed, stronger faith and a closer relationship with God. The self-reflection of Lent is rather like the soulful contemplation most of us experience at some time in our grief.

Poured Love

The intangible, unseen nature of hope is sometimes elusive, especially when we grieve, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?” (Romans 8:24 NRSV). It takes spiritual energy, patience, and a certain faithful fortitude to hope, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25 NRSV). Often hope takes more imagination than we are able to muster. When we feel that all is lost, for a while we simply do not see the value of hope. We ask why we should reinvest in life if there is a chance our hope will again be disappointed, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God” (Psalm 42:11 NRSV).

Whole Life

We grow spiritually through the experience of grief when wholeness inspires not greater self-sufficiency, but rather deeper dependence on the faithful presence of God. Wholeness, then, is a by-product of trust that inspires gratitude and affirms without question or reservation God’s abiding presence in our lives.

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.

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.

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.
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