Grief as a lifelong human experience is the scope of this absorbing book. Kenneth Mitchell and Herbert Anderson explore the multiple dimensions of the problem, including the origins and dynamics of grief, loss throughout life, caring for those who gr Grief as a lifelong human experience is the scope of this absorbing book. Kenneth Mitchell and Herbert Anderson explore the multiple dimensions of the problem, including the origins and dynamics of grief, loss throughout life, caring for those who grieve, and the theology of grieving. This examination is enriched by vivid illustrations and case histories of individuals whose experiences the authors have shared. ...Continua Nascondi
The book, All Our Losses, All Our Griefs – Resources for Pastoral Care is especially helpful for a deeper understanding of loss and grief/grieving. Every person who is alive will experience different kinds of losses throughout his lifetime, and will go through the different phases of grieving as a reaction to a loss. Any form of loss is at root experienced as a loss of a part of the self... Loss is inescapably painful precisely because attachment is a human necessity (p. 51). To be human is to be a griever of all kinds of losses (p. 52). The reality of loss points to the finitude and transitory nature of human life and experience. Indeed, persons who mourn eventually need to see their loss in the larger perspective of human finitude and suffering (p.85). God made man and woman with the capacity and need for relationship(s) and His grand design is to place the lonely in families. Yet these attachments which nurture us are but temporary. One day we will have to let go of these attachments through emotional or geographical separation or through death. Each loss is very painful indeed, and our response to the loss is called grief or grieving. When we deny loss and hide pain, then our grief becomes abnormal. I find the stories and personal vignettes mentioned in each section of the book to illustrate loss and grief very meaningful. In my own lifetime I have experienced the loss through physical death of my two grandmothers, my mother and father, and my 3-month old niece. I’ve also lost a sense of attachment to my close friends through geographical separation, which leads to emotional separation. And I’ve experienced grieving these losses by expressing sadness, crying, remembering the past, creating a memory (especially through photos), and observing anniversaries. It is true that grieving is unpredictable (p. 84) and can manifest at different periods in one’s lifetime. My mother died of a lingering illness at age 47 when I was 24 and my youngest brother was 14. Twenty-three years later, my youngest brother got married. A few days before his wedding, four of us siblings were together for lunch at a restaurant in San Diego and I commented that our mother would have been so happy to see her youngest son get married. And that started it; all four of us began to shed tears of sadness and remembrance of our dearly loved mother. I still experience moments of “grieving” on different occasions – for example during Mother’s Day celebration, or when I hear a friend tell how her mother takes care of her when she’s sick, or when I see a mother and daughter together during old age. At times I think of what might have been, but most of the time I remember that life has to go on.
The part about grieving and the terminally ill person is a very timely reminder. We must be alert to the uniqueness of each person’s grief (p. 61). In her private moments the terminally ill person is grieving in order to get ready to die, saying good-bye to many things before the final loss. It is important that there be time to grieve for all that will be left behind. And we as family and friends participate in some of that grief. But the one dying is the primary griever; her loses are taking place now (p. 59). Our grief is a signal of our involvement and affection, the cost of commitment (p. 58). This brings to mind the bestseller, Tuesdays with Morrie, in which the main character chose to have a living funeral so that he could still enjoy the good wishes and thoughts that his friend’s family gave while he’s still alive.
The second half of the book expounds on the characteristics of grieving, the goals of grieving, the impediments to grieving, personal ministry of caring for the grieving and public ministries to those who grieve. These are all very helpful to us in the counselling and pastoral care ministry. It is very fitting that the book should end with a theological perspective on suffering and grief on the themes of finitude, love, and hope. Suffering is part of being human and part of the mystery of God, and we cannot explain it away. For example, the sudden death of a beautiful 3-month old baby due to congenital heart disease; or the accidental death of a young person in the prime of life. How can we even begin to comfort the parents? Two things are essential according to the authors: 1) that we understand grief in relationship to community; 2) that we be sure that God will not abandon us in our grief. It is in the covenant community, which provides the context for grief and loss and the bearing of sorrow, which we can endure. The question about God which grief raises is not God’s power of goodness but God’s faithfulness. And the task of the person providing care to the griever is primarily concerned with keeping the communication lines open between the grieving person and God. It is also our ethical responsibility to eliminate avoidable/unnecessary suffering (p. 170, 172). In bearing sorrow in the context of community, we have an ethical obligation so that we do not lose the ability to perceive the suffering of others. In reality it is impossible to take away all the avoidable suffering going on around us, but each one can do his little part so that the Kingdom of God (characterized by love, dignity, justice, righteousness) becomes a reality in the spheres of life wherein God has placed us. I am challenged by the small covenant communities throughout church history, which God has raised to proclaim the Kingdom of God in Word and Deed. May we continue to be attentive to His leading and embark on projects that will make a difference in our world.