3/17/19 – “3 kinds of grief nobody talks about”

Posted on : Mar 14th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

In a Huffington Post article, “The 3 Kinds of Grief Nobody Talks About,” Kenneth Doka, the author of Grief Is a Journey, explains how some of our most cutting losses can go unrecognized by friends and family – and even ourselves.

One of these experiences of Grief is “The Loss Of A Person We Once Knew or Loved.”  Dr. Doka, describes this experience of grief like this:

Sometimes the people you love change in significant ways. They are still in your life—but not in the way you remember or once knew them. Illness often changes people, especially mental illness or dementia. In dementia, a person still is with us, but is not like the person we previously knew. The ties that bind us to one another, the shared memories and even the personality are no longer accessible. Sometimes the changes can be startling.  

Other illnesses can create a similar sense of loss. A traumatic brain injury generally affects all levels of mental function. We may grieve people as they sink into mental illness, alcoholism or drug use. Positive changes can also engender grief, when a person becomes different from the individual we knew and loved.  

For Tristan, one of my clients, it was the religious conversion of his brother. He was initially delighted that his brother found some faith, even if it was more intense than his own beliefs. But Tristan soon found it difficult to relate to his born-again brother who no longer wanted to share a beer and was always witnessing to Tristan and his family.  

Late in his life Bob, a very close friend of our congregation, who was also a former Lazarus Project board member, was diagnosed with a rare form of a brain disease.  The disease slowly caused his brain to atrophy.  When he was diagnosed with this disease, he shared with all his friends what this meant.   A few times a year he would update everyone on his condition and share with everyone the slow deterioration of his memory.  It was painful to experience this happening.  Bob was an extremely bright, well-educated person.  He lived all over the world.  He worked in the interfaith and ecumenical settings of the church.  To journey with this man as he literally lost his memory was outrageously painful and depressing.  Eventually he lost his ability to communicate and move.  He was confined to his bed.  I don’t know how much he comprehended but I do know that for those of us who knew “the old Bob,” and especially his wife, this was an agonizing experience.  She slowly lost the man she knew and loved for all those years.

In a conversation Jesus has with Peter, Jesus says to Peter, “In complete honesty, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” That is probably the closest description we have of grieving the loss of the person we used to be or the person we used to love.

This Sunday we will talk about this kind of grief that nobody talks about.  We’ll look at ways we can stay connected with such loved ones, even when our life situation is so radically changed.

Blessings to each of you!

Dan

John 21:15-25

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Jesus; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Jesus, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.  Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

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