Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stages of Grieving

A parishioner well into her eighties was in deep grief Sunday when her parish, Saint Peter's in Harper Woods, MI., was shuttered.

She ached no end.

Deep roots consist of her husband being buried for Saint Peter's Church, along with her children all celebrating the sacraments there, and more.

Grief is a normal and natural process by which a person makes a healthy adjustment to a significant loss of life, love, limb, and more in life.

You know.

You've been there also, I bet.

The bottom falls out for her in the shock she feels, and, the disbelief about her relationship with the parish community dying.

Of course, some things, systems, charisms even have to die for something new and vibrant to emerge.

Yet, the process takes time.

Numbness accompanies the shock also in a first stage of grief that Granger Westberg describes in his, Good Grief.

Tears follow the shock.  Other feelings follow, including cursing and expression of mad, sad, even scared feelings or variations of dominant feelings.

The long black tunnel like the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel  persists in grieving.  Depression sets in.  One asks will I recover from this loss?

Even suicide is a possibility.

How was I involved in the loss?  Can I forgive those who closed my church?

Anger ensues.

It is irrational often.

One feels as though the past was perfect while the future offers little hope.

Eventually, this parishioner will realize that the past had its faults also.

This takes time.

A year approximately in some situations.

New patterns emerge. Different ways of doing things happen.

She will eventually decide to live with the loss of her parish.

She may move on.  She may quit altogether.  I doubt that for her, however.

This is called healthy adjustment.

She will no longer be disturbed by this loss.

And, she emerges stronger for the grief work that takes time.

One cannot make this process happen.  It cannot be forced.

When a church shuts down someone better be around to pick up the pieces of loss, abandonment and more.

Praying out loud will help.

Eternal rest grant unto Saint Peter's Church, O Lord, and give my parish community eternal rest.

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