I don’t talk about my vocation as a chaplain a lot, but I’ve worked in hospital settings to currently a retirement community. Grief, loss, and death seem to be reoccurring themes in the life of chaplaincy.
I do enjoy being a chaplain in more of a communal setting than the random visits that happen in a hospital setting, but it also makes it more difficult when people die. Pastors and ministers are people too, and it’s sad, when I am constantly saying goodbye to people I form a deep bond with. However, I know God is using me and my gifts to journey with folks as they approach the end, or approach the ultimate new beginning for those of who believe that death is not the end.
It’s interesting what our pop culture says about death. I know Star Wars takes myth and views of multiple religions and blends them in one; I equated Zen Buddhism and Taoism as the largest spiritual inspirations of Star Wars. The Force seems similar to the Great Tao that cannot be named. Jedi masters like Yoda act as strange Taoist sages, or eccentric Zen monks that talk in paradox. I am still unsure where Force ghosts fit into all this, but it does strike to this notion that death is not the end for all of us that we are still tied to life by the Force even in death.
In Christianity, there is a strong sense of the communion of saints. Saints aren’t necessarily force ghosts that come back after death to give us wisdom, but they do speak to us through the walls that divide life and death. All of this to say that what separates life and death is not as clear as we make it out to be. I love the Buddhist notion that each breath leads to our last, and this is not to make us depressed and withdraw from life, but the awareness of death allows to see each breath as a precious moment and gift.
light a candle for those who died
remembering each moment
When you’re young, you think you are immortal. We are taught the value of our lives lie in what we produce, and what we accomplish.
But at the end of the day, as you age, it’s not your possessions, wealth or prestige that matters.
The question at the tip of one’s tongue in old age is did I love well? Do they know I loved them? Do the ones I love love me? Unspoken moments of “I love you” are often the biggest regrets in our lives.
I have no words…I wish I could simply hug you and hold you. But you asked me for words to help you through your grief and loss, so I will try to put into words what has been helpful to me.
I speak to you not as a chaplain, pastor, but simply as a human to a human…heart to heart.
Giref has no rhyme or reason. If someone tells you what stage of grief you should be on politely ask them to go away before you punch them in the face. 🙂 Just kidding.
One of the hardest things for me has been to simply give myself to the process, and not try to control or judge myself as I am going through the grief and loss process. Some days I want to cry, laugh, punch a heavy bag of all of the above. No one knows how to feel except you, so let your own heart be the guide.
Sometimes you’ll feel like God has abandoned you, but God is so close. I’m not sure what it’ll b like for you, but remember you are not alone. Let the people that love you love on you and let them if they need to simply sit and hold your hand.
A lot of people suggested I write to process my grief, but there are days that all I could do was sit, breathe and blankly stare at the wall. Other times I wanted to scream, and once or twice words poured out of me.
I will hold you in the Light as always.
Love and Love,
Your Friend on this Journey