My mother died 1 year ago this month, on our daughter’s 16th birthday. As a pastor I have often counseled people through the stages of grief and know that grief can take many twists and turns along the pathways of our life. Grief may walk beside us when we loose a parent, a spouse, or a child—these are journeys people notice. Harder are the journeys when grief goes unnoticed as a silent companion lingering in the shadows of our life when we loose a job, when a marriage ends, or when the dreams we once had will no longer come true. Grief is a spiritual journey, one without a timeline.
If we learn to grieve well, we will grow and so will our community.
My favorite book is also a movie series entitled Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in Fellowship of the Ring the following poem:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
Grief is a Companion
Think of Grief as a companion, a guest in our home for a time. Ask her to stay awhile and teach us what she knows about life. She is a wanderer, but she is not lost. She knows what is truly valued, more than gold or wealth. She understands that sometimes we loose our way and need a light to guide us on our path back home—to our Spiritual Center, to a place of strength. She teaches us that our roots come from our community—and without them we will wither.
Grief is Growth
Each of us as we grow, we grieve the loss of something. Each of us as we grieve, we grow, if we are paying attention. The trick is to learn how to pay attention and ultimately learn how to grieve well. This week, the day after Easter, my sister sent me a charm bracelet with purple ribbons honoring those who struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Our mother lived with Alzheimer’s for more than 10 years. Much of it she lived well, sharing in the joys of birthdays and time with her family. Some of it was hard, the withering away of her memories, the loss of our freedom as we oriented our lives around her care. When she died, we cried and we were relieved. You see, Grief is a strange companion; she takes us on journeys we never wanted to take, but need to. The purple bracelet reminds me to remember our mother well. Remembering Well is the fourth step in my 5 suggestions for Grieving Well.
5 Suggestions for Grieving Well:
Don’t forget to follow the journey of our T.E.A.R.S.
- Truth: Tell the Truth about what happened.
- Emotions:Feel the Emotions of the loss.
- Accompany:Find good companions to Accompany you on your Grief Journey.
- Remember: Remember well what you lost. And finally,
- Start: Start a new journey in your life.
Today, I remember my mom well. Her name was Cherie.