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Wednesday October 11, 2017

In the Old Testament, there is a book called Ecclesiastes. We don't know exactly who wrote Ecclesiastes, but tradition tells us that the writer was King Solomon, the son of David. Perhaps the best-known section of the book reflects on the variety of life and how different emotions and events occur throughout our lives, over which we have little or no control. The writer states:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak." (Eccles. 3:1-7 RSV)

In today's world, we are all joined together in the common bond of grief to remember those for whom it was their time to leave this world. In many ways, the hardest part of grief is remembering those who are no longer with us. None of us are alone. This statement may bring particular comfort to anyone who may be reading this today. Although we grieve for different people, our grief is shared. A Honduran proverb says, "Grief shared is half grief."

The time of grief and mourning can be an uncertain time, both in terms of its longevity and also in knowing how we or others will react. After the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis observed that he was resentful if people asked him how he was, as he often wanted to be alone in his thoughts. He didn't even know how to begin to answer the question. He was just as resentful when people didn't ask him, observing that "No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear."

Grief is, in one way, a costly consequence of love. The writer Hilary Stanton Zunin observed, "The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief." We grieve because we feel the pain of loss. We also grieve because of the strength of our love for the person that we remember today. Our love continues and grief does not diminish our love. Often in the early months after the death, we feel that love even stronger. The only way we can avoid the pain of grief is by avoiding the joy of love. German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm noted, "To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at a price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness." 

And so, each one of us at some time has experienced grief because of love—love for the person who has died and love that carries on in spite of death. With love, there is always hope. The greatest love is the love of God for each of us, a love that never diminishes and never dies because it is the love of the Creator.

—Rickey Spencer, Chaplain (Woltz Hospice Home) 

Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care offers free grief support to the community at large. For more info, contact us today at 336-789-2922 (toll-free 1-888-789-2922).

Tags: Grief Support