Grief Must Be Given Its Time

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“I no longer comfort others with false cheer.  In the hospital, where my encounters with patients are ever more distanced by sterile gloves, computer protocols, and the pressures of time, one way I can still be present is during their moments of grief.  I don’t encourage anyone to move on, to replace, to remarry, or put the photos of the memories away.  Grief must be given its time. 

— Courtney Davis, This I Believe II

No, these are not the words of a nurse serving on the front lines of Covid, in one of the forty-four states in our Union where new Covid cases are rising and staying high.  These words are actually twelve years old, and are drawn from the second anthology in the “This I Believe” series … an NPR essay project hosted by Edward R. Murrow in the early 1950’s.  The essays are written by people who speak to their personal motivations in life.  Once or twice a year, I find myself drawn to the two volumes of essays I have from this series.  This essay spoke to me about the grief that I think many of us feel over a world that at times seems defined by death and the threat of death.

But they also speak to hope.  Hope that always is fueled by a long-term view of life in difficult times.  In a world that lives sound-byte to sound-byte and tweet to tweet, it is a challenge to adopt this long-term view.  But the Christian faith is defined in many ways by the timeless  message that God’s will … will be done … in heaven … and on earth.  Our hope is not one that is solely tied to the life we live in the years granted to us … but also to a life that awaits us beyond the limitations of this world.

I will confess that I struggle at times to adopt this long-term view.  But words like the ones above from Ms. Davis, ground me, both in the reality of the moment, while also jettisoning me into a future of hope.  I do not know the details of the griefs that you may be experiencing in this pandemic.  But I do know that they are temporary, and that in time, with God’s strength, we will dare to voice the words of St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4 … “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”  Where God is present, hope is never far away.  May that hope be your companion.

Rev. Craig Ross

Senior Pastor

The vibrancy of life here at St. Peter’s makes my service on our staff a joy and privilege. Visitation, teaching and preaching are the ministries that feed my pastoral identity, as together our staff and lay members share in our missional calling … Building a community of faith by God’s grace.

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