Grief and Continuing Bonds

egocentricity

There is something right about remembering those we love, about caring for their memorial, about cherishing their memory, about letting our common life with them continue even when the jarring reality of death seems to have brought it to an end. Most peoples throughout history and throughout the world would whole-heartedly agree with this statement. The rare souls that would disagree inevitably come from the contemporary cultures of Western … [Read more...]

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”

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Although our Lord’s preaching begins with “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”(Matthew 4:17), repentance in terms of asking forgiveness seems to come late among the petitions of the Lord’s prayer. But when repentance is understood not as mere regret over the past, but a new vision for the future rooted in courageous commitment in the present, one can see that each petition of the Lord’s prayer, like the facets of a rare, sparkling diamond, … [Read more...]

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

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The Lord’s Prayer teaches us not only how we should pray, but also how we should think, what we should desire, and the way in which we should live. After so many petitions directing our gaze from earth to heaven by looking towards our heavenly Father as the starting point in all our efforts after asking that we might hallow His name by becoming holy ourselves, after beseeching that the Holy Spirit might come and abide in us establishing His rule … [Read more...]

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven

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The first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer—“hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”—express the same yearning for salvation that can be found when we have His Name honored in our heart, His rule governing our desires, and finally His will guiding our actions. According to Saint Gregory of Nyssa, the petition—“Thy will be done”—is particularly healing, for “the fragrance of the divine will is the … [Read more...]

What-if Thinking, Gratitude, Acceptance, and Grief

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Those who grieve are often consumed with thoughts about their loved one, their loss, and what that loss means for the future. Such thoughts may even lead some to ruminate about “what-if” scenarios such as “What if my wife’s cancer had been detected earlier?” or “If only he had taken another route that day, he could have avoided that car accident.” Psychologists define these thoughts as counterfactual thinking, which is understood to encompass the … [Read more...]

Thy Kingdom Come

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The late Orthodox theologian, Father John Romanides, used to speak at length about what he considered to be the basic mistranslation of the word basileia (βασιλεία) as kingdom, which among other problems, can render the second petition in the Lord’s prayer as opaque as the first. He contended that the word βασιλεία does not refer to kingdom in the sense of a geographical territory ruled by God, be it on heaven or on earth, but rather refers to … [Read more...]

Grief and the Quality of the Thoughts

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While most people come to know us through our actions, our lives are actually determined by our thoughts. It is precisely in the inner realm of the thoughts that outward action first germinates and later comes to fruition, always supported by the moist or dry, rich or barren, smooth or rocky soil of our thoughts. This is also true for those who are experiencing grief. It is the quality and direction of our thoughts about the departed, about … [Read more...]

Hallowed be Thy Name

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Small children learn early on about the difference between “thank you” and “please,” a difference about as basic as the distinction between past and future. Parents teach them to be genuinely grateful to those who in the recent past have been good to them and to humbly request help from those who in the near future may do them a favor. And yet that childlike clarity is sometimes absent when we pray that simple, yet most perfect prayer, which our … [Read more...]

Active and Passive Responses to Grief-the Christian Response

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In my last post, I explored the realm of possibilities open to each of us as we encounter those who grieve. Each possibility involves choice, often between active engagement and passive withdrawal. And choices matter irrespective of the amount of thought we put into them, for our decisions determine the course of our lives, influence the lives of those we love, and ultimately determine the quality of our character. The same may be said for … [Read more...]

How to Respond to Those Who Grieve?

It’s not easy to know what to say or what to do for someone who has just lost a loved one. What that loved one really meant to the bereaved, how that loved one’s presence completed their world, and what the world looks like now that the loved one is gone, the bereaved and only the bereaved fully know. That is why grief is so exquisitely personal, so undeniably unique, and often frustratingly inscrutable not only for others, but even for the … [Read more...]