Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
Do you ever catch yourself looking at a word you just wrote and asking yourself if you spelled it correctly? That’s what I did with Grieving.

I spelled it right. It just didn’t look right. Maybe that’s the point; grieving never lets you see things quite clearly. Perhaps that’s why when someone is in grief, so often, well-meaning people around them almost rush them along through the grief in an anxious attempt to make things “normal” again. Even when we have to grieve about something personally, we still seem to be slow-learners.

It’s hard to believe, but 50 years ago, in 1969, Dr Elizabeth Kubler Ross published her famous book, On Death and Dying. She offered stages that someone who is dying goes through: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Those stages were not just for the dying, but also for the survivors around them.

Would that her five steps always flowed as easily as I just recalled them. She probably would be the first to tell you that she offered an approach to grief, not a solution. I think she wanted people to simply realize that there is a process of some kind, and each one needs to give it a chance to work, and each one needs to be allowed by others to move at their own pace.

So... three days after El Paso and Dayton, I’m trying. It’s going to take a while.

There a few thoughts that occur to me. In no order of importance:

  1. I don’t want to grieve alone, but I don’t want anyone to tell me how to do it.
  2. Experience has taught me that when I can be present to someone else in their grieving, I’m better off for it.
  3. We can’t stuff our experiences of terrible events into some sort of huge disposal bin labeled “FORGET THESE” and quickly ship it out to sea.
  4. Our faith must be the first thing we reach for in looking for help and not some sort of an afterthought. Once again, here I mean our faith-verb, not just our faith-noun; in other words, not just what we believe but the way we believe.
  5. There is no quick-fix. Faith gives me the courage to ask for patience.

OK. Now what? Patience, Jim, patience.

In the midst of the barrage of 24/7 news coverage, when the cable news folk tried their best, but could do nothing more than keep showing the same films over and over again, there was a spark that hit me.

One of the most overworked phrases I hear is “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” I am probably guilty of a little cynicism, but I want to say, “Is that the best you can do?”

But in the middle of it all, there was the beleaguered mayor of El Paso. Imagine having dozens of reporters wanting interviews and how many times can he say, “El Paso isn’t like this”? Poor guy. I believed him the first time. But then, in the middle of it all, when he was asked what they needed, he said, “Please, pray for us.” That blew me away. I can’t recall a public official asking for prayer with such genuine and sincere need. Maybe there was one, but I missed her or him.

So, Mayor Donald “Dee Dee” Margo, you have my prayers and so do your people, as do the people of Dayton and those recent communities ravaged by gunfire.

Just how long will it take us to get rid of the assault weapons that slaughter? Now I’m really reaching for faith-verb!

In Jesus,
sign frjim

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