“I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am.”
― Gerald L. Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss
Loss is a common human experience. If you live long enough, you will experience the death of someone you know and love. We know this to be true, and yet we in large measures avoid thinking of death. We tie our identity to others, and something inside of us intuitively knows that when our loved one is gone- not only will we miss them, but we will not be the same. The absence of our loved one is hard enough, but along with death comes the change of who we will be without that person in our life.
Death is not all “loss” it is also “change” and as author Jerry Sittser describes it is also “Grace Disguised.”Though you want to be careful giving a book to a person in the midst of their grief, and no book can “solve” grief because it is not a problem to be solved but rather a process to experience, I do heartily recommend this book for any who are interested in exploring matters of grief, personal growth and faith. It does come out of the Christian tradition (Sittser is a Presbyterian, and a professor at Whitworth University in Spokane), but I would recommend it to people no matter their faith stance. Sittser is sensitive, wise, and daringly honest in this book which tells of his own personal story of the death of his mother, wife and child in an automobile crash.
For me, personally, when I read this book I was in my early 20’s and had not experienced much death and suffering. As the years have rolled on, and as I have officiated dozens of funerals and experienced the death of friends and family, I am drawn back to the wisdom of people like Sittser and others who are willing to bravely share out of their own experience.
Our society needs people who have grown from their own grief experiences and are willing to be honest, kind and sensitive to those who have recently experienced the death of loved ones. This is a huge part of why I am committed to Friends of Hospice.
That first word of our name is essential: “Friends.” People experiencing loss need honest, kind, sensitive friends to be present with them in their grief process. Maybe you are one of those who can be a friend. Maybe you are person who has experienced a recent loss.
May we find each other, and may we give each other space and grace to grieve the loss of our loved one while also changing and growing into the new life without them here with us.