Pam Kramer: I’ve been pondering the notion of grief recently. Why? July is the anniversary of my widowhood. It is a time to focus on all the happy times and not dwell on the loss. But this July was particularly jarring. First, a family member passed after a long battle with illness. Then a colleague and mentor passed. He was the guru of my profession and a mentor to me and many others. A week later, another professional colleague who was much younger passed very suddenly. Each in his own way brought gifts and talents to the world and will be lovingly remembered by those who knew them. The standard definition of grief involves a deep emotional loss over a death. I realized that in losing these three men, my grief was more subdued. No weeping, no deep depression, but still a feeling of loss. Something is gone that can never be retrieved, while something stays in my heart and mind in the memories I have of them.
It seems to me that we grieve over a lot of other things. For example, we grieve when we lose a job, whether voluntary or by retirement. We grieve when we move from one neighborhood or state to another, leaving behind friends. During the pandemic year and again now, with so much uncertainty, I feel like we are all grieving again. We grieve over the loss of certainty, the change and necessary morphing of our traditions, be they work, family or church. We feel lost and unanchored.
This summer’s theme has been Unraveled. We have been examining how things fall apart and find ways to weave our lives back together.
Pastor Justin: I think we could talk about grief for days; Lord knows we have enough material to talk about. Certainly grief doesn’t feel good and maybe that is partly why we hesitate to open up about our individual and communal grief, but there may be space to honor it.
This summer series has given me time and space to notice the places and ways in which things unravel in my life. Grief is an unraveling, for certain, and it is a way of weaving something new. Every loss presents an opportunity. An opportunity to feel sadness, to cry, to hold memories as if they are a priceless treasure. An opportunity to allow our tears to wash away sadness over time, giving way for something new.
Your life may be unraveling right now. You may be experiencing grief from a loss decades ago… that’s the funny thing about it, grief lives in us and likes to pop-up and say “hi” at unexpected times. Grief never really goes away, but our capacity to hold it and live with it expands.
I won’t pray that God take the grief away from anyone, rather we are given the strength to hold on to it and the willingness to embrace whatever the new thing is happening in our lives.