Transformation of Grief
Barbara Howard of Independece, MO, USA
Reprinted from Journey of Joy, Herald House, 1990
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. -Isaiah 43:1-2
Every human being must face the loss and suffering of separation through death. Sometimes death follows months of intense pain and suffering. At the moment of death there is a sense of release, only to find the absence of the beloved more agonizing than the long hours of vigil awaiting death.
Joy comes. For many, like John Donne, it comes through ministry to others. Our friend Donald is a widower. His wife of fifty years died after a long illness. Today he is active in the hospice program. He still has moments of intense loss and loneliness, but he has transformed his grief into the joy of service.
Transformation comes through comfort-of others and of God…God, creator of the universe, who set in motion the planets and calls all life into being, “calls us by name.” This same God, Apostle Paul assures us, is the “God of all consolation” (2 Corinthians 1:3). In such comfort there is transforming joy.
“Over the years we melt into what we seek” (Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year).
We are in the threshold between seasons in the Christian calendar. You may have been noticing the physical transitions of the seasons wherever you live as some enter the depths of winter and others the warmth of summer. The seasons are a visible reminder that even among the most predictable rhythms and routines of our lives, change is always happening. The events of our moments, days, weeks, years form us and transform us over time. We enter each season different from when we arrived here last. This is the nature of this cyclical journey of faith. In these final days of the Christian calendar and the season of Ordinary time, there is opportunity to take a sacred pause, to notice how you arrive in this threshold. What have you been formed by this year? What has been deepening you as you’ve lived through another cycle of this life of faith?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.