Acceptance and Grief

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After a loved one dies, those who grieve often ruminate about what they or others could have done differently to prevent the death or at least postpone the loss. “If only I had seen the signs and brought my wife to a doctor sooner…”, “If only I had kept him from driving there yesterday…”, and countless other variations of the basic idea “If only the past were different, I would not be suffering in this present.” Such responses are a normal part … [Read more...]

Making Death into a Means to Spiritual Transformation

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In a 1789 letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet, most of us spend our lives doing everything possible to avoid them both. Even when a loved one dies some try to escape this grim reality by holding “celebration of life” events rather than a more traditional wake or funeral service. We are surrounded and inundated by cheery, but inane, messages … [Read more...]

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”

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Although we have already completed an entire series on forgiveness, it still worth revisiting the topic as we encounter it in the Sermon on the Mount directly following the Lord’s Prayer. Forgiveness is so important that after telling us to pray that our debts be forgiven as we forgive our debtors, our Savior makes a similar statement with respect to our trespasses. When people do not give us what is our due, we are to forgive. When people walk … [Read more...]

Finding Meaning in Grief

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In the plethora of human experiences, grief is perhaps the most universal and most likely the most difficult with which to cope. The very nature of grief demands that the event that precipitated the grief become meaningful. Yet how can the loss of a person that held together one’s inner world possibly become meaningful? How can a meaningless loss ever become a meaningful gain? Somehow, one needs to find a thread of meaning that can allow one to … [Read more...]

“For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.”

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The Lord’s prayer is truly wonderful beyond description. It lifts us up to “our Father Which art in Heaven.” It calls us to become perfect living temples in which the name of the Lord is hallowed. It encourages us to be angelic in obedience to His will. It instructs us to seek nourishment in His word and through His divine mysteries. It exhorts us to become exemplars of forgiveness, humility, and trust in God. And when the last petition about … [Read more...]

Grief and Transformation

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The death of a loved one is always more than just an extended absence of someone who is important to us. It entails a loss of part of our self and a certain support that structures our world. Basic assumptions about life are sometimes shattered, leaving us disoriented and lost with questions that can shake us to our very core. Is the world really benevolent? Is life really meaningful? Do I still have value with that person who so greatly valued … [Read more...]

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”

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If the initial petitions of the Lord’s Prayer turn our gaze from earth to heaven, the final petition returns us to the world with a full realization of the dangers we face, the weaknesses that beset us, and the ultimate source of strength and redemption in which we can place our hope. In fact, Saint John Chrysostom teaches that this petition encourages us to be prepared for anything and everything, “suffering of the body, illnesses of the soul, … [Read more...]

Active Remembrance with Love: A Healthy Way to Grieve

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In an interview with Theodora Kontogiannis recorded in her doctoral dissertation, Dr. Sally Miller, the author of Mourning and Dancing, noted “memories of the deceased spouse served as a safe haven to help mend the trauma of loss, as an inner voice to lessen current social isolation, as an internal reworking of self to meet new realities and as reassurance of the possibility of immortality…A great part of grief work is remembering…remembering … [Read more...]

Grief and Continuing Bonds

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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...]