Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ecumenical/Interfaith memorial service reflection

A.Hanson 2009
The following text is a reflection that I wrote and delivered for the quarterly ecumenical/interfaith memorial service at the hospital where I serve as a chaplain.

A prayer by Joyce Rupp from Your Sorrow is My Sorrow:
All-Embracing love, your circle of strength is around me.  I ask for grace to yield to the reality of this loss.  I pray to surrender to what cannot be changed I beg for deliverance from the emotional drain and the unending sadness that this loss has brought me.  Let peace return.  Let hope begin.  Let comfort be mine.

On behalf of the chaplains of St Anthony Hospital, thank you for allowing us to walk alongside your families as you remember your loved ones. We hope that this evening of remembering is a place of safe harbor in a sea of grief.

It has been my own experience with deep grief and the loss of my own family members, that there are very few safe spaces in which to name our pain. It seems to be understandable to those around us if we are sad for a week or two, and others are more than willing to indulge our grief.  They are more than willing to allow us to weep and mourn and to wail.  But as the weeks stretch into months, our well-meaning friends, neighbors and family members tire of holding us up, and wonder why we can’t just move on. 

Living through the death of a loved one is not something that we know that we are capable of until we are forced into living that new and raw existence.  No matter how much we attempt to prepare, there is still much that is unknown.  How we will survive the first holiday, the first birthday, the first anniversary, after the death of someone we love. Getting through days turns into getting through hours or getting through minutes. 

But minute by minute, days and hours and weeks add up. The pain of the death of a loved one may never go away, but it will be accompanied by moments of joy and pleasure and peace.  Our loved ones live on in the stories that we share and in the ways that we love and care for one another. Tonight we speak aloud the names of those who have passed away as patients at St Anthony hospital.  We remember with you.

May you know peace.  May you know comfort.  May you know hope. And in time, may you know joy.  

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