Thursday, October 1, 2009


September 23, 2009
Grant us, O God, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure... Collect for Proper 20

This day we met in Greenville to attend a conference about grieving. "Don't we know enough about grieving?" we laughed to ourselves as we piled in the car for the short commute to the conference center. (Have you ever done that - attended a conference about something that is so familiar that you think it must be a joke?)

I learned with humor and gratitude how anxiety about earthly things can appear.

The speaker directed his comments to the more than 100 folks who were funeral directors. For this audience, their role in connecting grieving families to the ritual letting go of a loved ones means that grief work is simply part of the job. It was helpful to hear how grieving family dynamics show up at the funeral home.

  • The wailing sister who can't believe her brother died, even though she never spoke to him in the last four years.
  • The demanding grandson who thinks he knows what dress Grandma would want to wear, even though he never once visited her while she was in the nursing home.
  • The siblings who don't talk to each other because their father was abusive to one and left his estate to the other.

I got the picture that when patients die in the hospital, I'm only experiencing one tiny piece of the family dynamic that might play out more fully later on. I really gained appreciation for the funeral homes who provide important negotiating work in the midst of death.

I placed my hope on Love that endures through our human frailty and holds us together despite earthly anxiety.

What is passing away for you, in this moment, and what are you holding fast to?

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