“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NRSV)
Grief is one of the most powerful and pervasive experiences that we go through as human beings. We all experience a variety of losses that impact our sense of wellbeing in as many ways as there are people. Feelings are shared by those who are grieving, but each has a unique journey through processing loss.
Grief results from different kinds of loss—the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, the loss of a job, the loss of a dream, the onset of the empty nest, or a move to a new area. Even positive life changes can create losses that have to be processed much like grief. A surprising example of a positive experience that can produce loss is when someone becomes a parent for the first time. New parents have to process the loss of the freedom and independence they once had. The newborn baby makes demands on their time that a lot of new parents don’t anticipate. So as positive an experience as starting a family is, it can also be a stressful time that produces grief.
In times of grieving, we may benefit from space and time set aside for personal reflection, but it’s also important to have people who are going through similar experiences to sit with us in our grief and reflect with us. Recognizing that the feelings of pain, disorientation, and confusion that often accompany grief are not unique to you can be liberating. Sitting with people who share their insights and struggles can bring relief when you feel like no one else could understand. If you are grieving, do not attempt to navigate it alone. To try to do grief alone is to miss out on an opportunity to both comfort others and be comforted in your grief.
Canterbury is offering two groups this fall as a means of providing some common space for sharing the burden of your grief. Sheryl Thornton and Graham Black are facilitating one group and Jennifer Kopf and I are facilitating the other one. We would love for you to join one of those groups where you will be cared for and nurtured through this season of your life. You can share at whatever level you are willing to share without being pushed or prodded to go deeper. For those who have participated previously in a group, it has been a breath of fresh air where the heaviness is lifted enabling them to develop a greater sense of peace. Contact Sheryl Thornton to register for either of these groups or our website.
Rev. Dale Cohen
Senior Pastor of Canterbury United Methodist Church