Wednesday, April 17, 2013

From grief to joy

This week my book club discussed Kate Braestrup's true story as she tells it in Here If You Need Me, a story about how Braestrup recovers from her young husband's death and finds her calling as a chaplain to search-and-rescue workers in Maine. The book is at once poignant, sad, funny, moving and uplifting.

We talked about how life-changing the death of someone important to us is. It reminded me of how many different types of death we experience in a lifetime. When I experienced divorce, I knew it was a death—not just the death of a marriage but of dreams as well. There were some differences, of course, such as the sense of failure and shame that accompany divorce that would not be there had my husband died—and the fact that no one brings hot dishes when you go through divorce. Nevertheless, divorce was a death. And it became a huge turning point in my life just as Braestrup's life took a different turn when her husband died and she became a single parent.

You and I experience other types of death, too. Have you ever pursued your passion only to have it come to an abrupt halt, for one reason or another? You had to bury a dream. Or perhaps you lost a job—or a friendship. When the friendships are deep and long-lasting, that's certainly death. Losing abilities as we age or body functions through illness—those also remind us that something in us has died.

Here's the deal: All those things need to be grieved. I invite you to see whether there's some grief in your life that hasn't yet been felt and faced. Unresolved grief has a way of sabotaging us and robbing us of joy and the ability to move forward. It sucks energy and joy from us. And at some point, when we feel the pain and eventually let go, our energy and joy can return. And often unimagined wisdom and grace accompany that joy.

If you are comfortable sharing your experience around this, I'd love to have you do so in the Comment box below. You will be an inspiration to others just as Braestrup's book inspired me and my sister book club readers.

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