Posts Tagged ‘grief’



Good Morning! I will believe in Good Morning. My body is still achy, numb, tired, and compassionate for my friends and their families who have suffered a sudden and traumatic and violent loss of their loved one.


A mother has lost her beloved daughter. A husband suffers the solitary loss of his soulmate wife who together created a life of good in their home, their work, and their play. Two young adult college age daughters have lost their earthly bond to their mother. Brother and sisters are minus one in their family – minus two, as they lost their father in his passing two years ago. Cousins, young, lively, playful, and filled with family outing memories, like the one they were returning from when disaster on the highway struck, suffer a hole too big to replace in the family fabric.  Friends and companion teachers stand present, yet walled in by the daily absence of Judy’s presence in their lives.  Students, present and past, have lost a friend, mentor and extraordinary woman.


I will believe in Good Morning….


Judy was a bright light and she shone brightest in two areas of her life – her family and her middle school classroom.  There is no light switch that can remedy the darkness in these spaces. A dimmer dims the spots she occupied and for now, it looks very dark and it hurts.


I will believe in Good Morning…


For awhile, our personal and world compass is turned upside down. South is the new North. Each of us must find new paths – paths we never intended or suspected we would have to take. Paths we don’t want to take. We look for an escape route and it is not there. We are stuck with  “what is.”  And we surely don’t like what is.  We are tired, beyond what we know, and each day comes, asking of us to take one step forward.  We don’t want to.


I will believe in Good Morning…


Husband, daughters, sisters, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, mother…..we want to be there for you in our own little daily world. It can look like, after the initial liturgies and visitations are performed, we go about our lives, as usual.  But it is not true.


You, dear ones, are the ones most deeply touched by unspeakable grief. But, as your friends on the outside, we too are changed forever. We will never, ever be the same within our families or our world, as we were before this loss befell you. It is in us as well and it will never leave us. Our composition is altered. We will all find new light eventually. We will all suffer the “new life” that will be lived. We will all feel the hole that only faith, hope and love can heal. We will all look at life with “new eyes” – eyes that cannot understand –eyes that want to see differently – eyes that look toward an earthly horizon and into the heart of the beloved one who has gone home.


I will believe in Good Morning…with a heart of hurting love.

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All Saints (c) Jan Richardson


This guest blog from Jan Richardson comes to you on November 1, All Saints Day celebrated in the Catholic Church. This year I have “lost” dear family and friends, more than I want to count. I am aware of the “thin veil” as I have been visited by many of them in my dreams and have even heard them speak. We are Eternal Beings. This I now know and continue to believe. Still, I am jealous of the thin veil and it is not enough for me to know they are “still here.”  I grieve the losses of my friends’ of their spouses and siblings and being in this “of a certain age” category, the expectation that these losses will diminish has all but vanished. Acceptance is hard in coming. Prayer is centering. But wishful thinking continues and memories float through my awareness like a familiar drive-through order.

Peace Be.


“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”
—Luke 20:38

I have long loved this trinity of days of October 31, November 1, and November 2: Halloween, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Souls. For many years these days have been for me a threshold time—what the Celtic tradition calls a thin place, where the veil between worlds becomes permeable. I learned long ago that this thin place is a time for paying attention, for listening at the threshold, for noticing what door seems to be opening and inviting me to walk through.

It seemed fitting that Gary and I began dating on Halloween, that the roots of our relationship go deep into these thin, in-between, meeting-of-worlds days. As I continue to navigate this path in the wake of his dying, it comes as a comfort to remember the message of the Feast of All Saints: that in the body of Christ, death does not release us from being in relationship with one another. The separation that causes us such pain in this life does not sever the bonds of community.

As we move through these days, I want to share a blessing I wrote three years ago, the last time this reading from Luke 20 came up in the lectionary. When I wrote the blessing, I had no idea how much I would need it for myself, and how soon. Just a week after I posted it, Gary had the surgery that, so unexpectedly, would bear him away from us.

In these days, may the veil be thin for each of us. May we know the blessing of those who are gone from this life but who breathe with us still, and may we know the grace of the God who breathes life into us all. Deep peace to you.

God of the Living
A Blessing

When the wall
between the worlds
is too firm,
too close.

When it seems
all solidity
and sharp edges.

When every morning
you wake as if
flattened against it,
its forbidding presence
fairly pressing the breath
from you
all over again.

Then may you be given
a glimpse
of how weak the wall

and how strong what stirs
on the other side,

breathing with you
and blessing you
forever bound to you
but freeing you
into this living,
into this world
so much wider
than you ever knew.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

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Things are not falling apart for me now. But there are a few times in my life when they truly were on a personal level. Somewhere along the line, I picked up Pema Chodron’s book by the same title: When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

On December 14, 2012, things fell apart on a collective, national scale, and of first importance — fell apart on  the deepest of personal levels for many, many family members and emergency and law officials of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

I, of course, have no advice, nor many words. Yet I recognize, that because I am a writer, I am usually hiding something from myself when I refuse to write.

I am on the verge of refusing to write….so I will not give into that. Most of my “falling apart” personal experiences, I notice I have not written through. My journals reveal the underpinnings, the warning signs, the path right UP TO the falling apart — then there is a significant amount of time not accounted for; in other words, blank pages, until I was “through it” and on my way.

“Life is like that. We don’t know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don’t know. When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on that brink and not concretize.”
Pema Chodron

I cannot deal with this on a rational level. Reason demands something  hard and defining like —concrete. I cannot grasp this. It is not static. It is too fluid, too life-changing for too many people, too much, too much, too much….It is a wilderness.

The skies even have gone dark since Friday, after two exceptionally bright days. The atmosphere is gloom. It reflects the hearts of the country, the raindrops, the tears falling everywhere. We are at one with the environment grieving this vast grief.

This Sunday morning, in the midst of Advent, the readings from St. Paul paralleled  this “brink” that was as present in the long ago days in the early Christian faith as it is in today’s scenes of purposeful infliction of pain, suffering and loss upon the innocent. It is “Latare” – Rejoice — Sunday. Only one Sunday of the four week season is focused on keeping a rejoiceful spirit amidst any number of our own troubles.

It looks like a daunting, impossible task for the immediate future, but we are also in the season of promised hope — Christmas; but now one Christmas so unspeakably different than what these families in Newtown were preparing for.

The liturgy today, including the hymns chosen to be sung, appeared to me to be sending a cradle of love to fellow families on the East Coast. Even though the presider of the Mass had to speak of rejoicing in his homily, he drew us gently to  the one main way (not by reason) we are able to do this.

It is through our embodying the faith of old, as when St. Paul, in his most dire circumstances of imprisonment and impending execution, still wrote to his followers to rejoice, as indeed, he himself was doing. The reason Paul told them that they could was that Christ was truly present to them in all circumstances, at all times,

There had been no mention yet of the Sandy Hook School shootings by Bishop Murray, who was assisting Father O’Leary until he is feeling a little better. But he concluded his homily, by slowing down his words and deliberately pronouncing these words directly to the congregation. I felt it was as though he knew he had to address the amount of grief held in the hearts and faces before him.

I cannot quote directly, but this is what my heart heard.

“In the fifty-three years of ministry I have performed and the 80 years I have taken breath after breath, I can tell you this. I know for certain that God is very especially present with individuals undergoing hardships of any kind and that God was and is most present to the victims and family survivors and officials dealing with the vast horrors of this immense and immeasurable tragedy.

I believe that.

I am still on the brink — in the moment of pain. There are an infinite number of beaches around the world, I suppose, but today, there is not enough sand to hide my head in. I know what’s going on. But then again, I don’t know anything, really.

I’m also choosing to believe in another line Chodrin writes in Falling Apart.

“Right now — in the very instant of groundlessness — is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness.”

That, I can do and I commit to doing it. Perhaps that will help in overcoming the dueling-banjos of both a headache and stomach murmur.

…..”main point is that we all need to be reminded and encouraged to relax with whatever arises and bring whatever we encounter to the path.” Pema Chodron’s words, not mine.

I will need practice to arrive at peace with that.

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