Grieving With Grace:
A Woman’s Perspective
From Chapter One…
There are many ways in which the course of our daily life is altered. The ravages of war can cause the loss of home, business and loved ones, as we see in Iraq year after year. So, too, with natural disasters. After a tornado leveled an entire town in the Midwest, I heard a woman who had survived say on the radio, “I have to reinvent my life.” When a whole way of life is changed, the greatest loss may be that of hope.
On a smaller scale, a chronic illness can require changes in daily living, limiting our options, and forcing us to choose different priorities. The altering may be gradual, as it is when we age, losing mobility, or hearing, or our independence. It is death, however, that alters life forever. This is especially true with the death of a spouse, the person with whom all the rhythms of daily living have been shared, at all levels: body, mind and soul.
In all cases we experience some shift in consciousness, some change in the way we see the world, ourselves and God. This is the point at which an authentic change of direction may begin, a change for the better, what Christians refer to as conversion. Initially, we may be so intent on survival that we do not view the change as a conversion. But in the midst of survival, and all its attending techniques, we can sense the challenge to find ways to get in touch with the richness of life here and now, and to welcome the next chapters of a life newly unfolding. Therein lie the seeds of resurrection.
More than twenty years ago, novelist and poet Reynolds Price was diagnosed with cancer of the spine. He was treated and lived, but his way of living was completely changed. Though he is now wheelchair bound, he writes that these last decades have been the most creative and productive of his entire life, and his work confirms that. When he realized the enormous change that had taken place he asked himself: Who will you be tomorrow? That, I think, is a question that all of us in the midst of change or conversion might ask ourselves.
The question I framed a few years ago was this: How is it possible to realize a future of creativity filled with God’s abundant love when my heart is broken? My heart broke early in the morning of June 23, 2003. My husband, Tom, who had suffered from serious cardiac problems for years, went to the hospital on our forty-sixth wedding anniversary, not because of a cardiac event but because he had bronchitis and couldn’t stop coughing. He remained overnight for observation, not in intensive care, but in an ordinary hospital room. We fully expected he would come home the next day.
Thursday, September, 4, 2008