What do Aristotle, Moses, Muhammad, Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bertrand Russell, Edgar Allan Poe, Leo Tolstoy, William Wordsworth, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ingrid Bergman, Ray Charles, singer, Ella Fitzgerald, and Steve Jobs, Apple Computer founder, have in common?
They are all orphans.
My parents died within two months of each other. The two lovebirds wanted to die together and they almost pulled it off.
My father died a horrible death. Cancer that started in his prostate spread throughout his body.
My mother, thin as a rail, died next. Her death certificate did not list grief as the cause of her death, but it was as much of the cause of her death as her physical problems.
It’s a strange feeling to lose both your parents in a very short period of time.
I thought two months was a short time, but then a church member lost her mother one day and then her father a week later.
Both of us agreed that we felt like orphans.
Grief is wanting the one thing you can’t have: the person, or in our case, the persons, back.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphaned.” And yet many either are orphans or feel like orphans.
Explore with people their grief. And reassure them of Jesus’ presence through the Spirit, the faith community, and through family and friends.
Explore grief. How it’s hard to cook for one person. How, out of habit, you think about making a phone call but it’s just a thought because the person is now a memory. How it didn’t seem right that the world didn’t stop. How dying can be so cruel. How the last breath leaves the body.
Explore the details of grief. Name grief for what it is. Don’t rush to “I will not leave your orphaned.” Maybe describe grief and death in all its pain and let your last line be “I will not leave you orphaned.” And then wait. Let there be silence, at least fifteen seconds of silence as you stare at your congregation. And then, and only then, sing.
©2013 Liberal Lectionary resources