Grief, Loss, Candy Corn and Christmas Lights
It is common at the start of fall to see Halloween decorations alongside Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations in our shopping places. We know that these months of fall carry us right into the Holiday season, and at times those who suffer daily with issues of grief and loss, these are especially challenging days to overcome.
Grief and loss come to us in all sorts of ways. The most obvious way is in the loss of a loved one. When someone we love dies, it leaves us with this cycle of grief that moves us around in stages of anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We seem “all over the place” and the length or extent of our grief is unknown, which makes the daily things in life even more frustrating.
Death is not the only way that grief and loss are experienced in people’s lives. We experience grief and loss in many ways including changes in our relationships, functions and identity.
Estrangement with our family members, divorce as a couple and as a child of parents who divorce all carry challenges of grief and loss in a person’s life. When we no longer have the ability to talk to or relate to a person who once was a part of our lives, let alone to settle a dispute that remains unresolved, we experience severe and dramatic feelings of daily loss and grief.
Often times when we acknowledge daily functions in need of change in our lives we find ourselves feeling issues of anger and depression. When there is a loss of a person’s autonomy, which effects not only the person who physically has to confront that loss of function, but also effects the loved ones of that person as well. As individuals enter into their later years of life and realize that daily acts that they once thought of as simple and took for granted now have become things they are no longer able to do, or do without the support of others, we start to grieve the loss of that freedom as both the individual and the loved ones of that individual.
Our identity is not only the way that we understand ourselves, but it is also the way in which the world understands us as well. This type of life change may come with retirement or if major life plans don’t happen as they are expected. Some people experience this type of loss when their children have grown and are no longer in the home. When life does not turn out the way it was planned or expected to go, we find ourselves with loss that surrounds itself around the questions of, “what might have been” and often times there are feelings of failure, shame and regret mixed in with these feelings of loss, anger and sadness.
Sometimes the greatest relief in these overwhelming feelings is to know that you are not alone.
That among you there are others who know what it is like to have this cycle of emotion remain with you throughout your day. Some days are easier than others, and typically significant holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years become more challenging as that loss is more apparent.
As Lutheran Christians in this world, we believe that we live most genuinely in our faith when we acknowledge and support the grief and loss in each other’s lives. Every year, we celebrate, “All Saints’ Sunday” which is a time dedicated to honoring those who are no longer with us, and the connection we have between the heavenly realm and the living realm. We all live in the promise of God’s grace and deliverance. It is the support we need on earth, and the promise we await at our death.
As a community of God’s people, All Saints’ Sunday is about how we love and support each other through the grief and loss of our lives. Through the loss of loved ones, through the changes in life that leave us questioning and unsure, and through the reality of who we are in comparison to who we once were. Our worship service on November 4th will be centered around acknowledgement and support of the grief and loss in our lives. We have asked the Rev. Susan Lanford, who has decades of experience on grief and loss, to be our guest preacher. There will be time of reflection, acknowledgement, forgiveness and gratitude as we worship together this All Saints’ Sunday.
All are welcome to attend. All are welcome to invite others they know who may benefit from an hour of centering thought to attend as well. St Paul Lutheran Church is an ELCA Lutheran community that believes the grace and love of God through Jesus Christ come to all people just as they are, which is beautifully and wonderfully made children of God. We welcome all people into our sanctuary without expectation or obligation, and consider our sanctuary a place of refuge and a place of opportunity for reflection and inspiration.
May you receive, know and feel the grace of God among you today,
We worship at 10am on Sunday. To learn more about St. Paul Lutheran Church and our guest speaker, Rev. Susan Lanford, please visit our website: www.stpaulportland.org