Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Living Through Loss

I visited two lovely elderly persons last week who live on their own and have managed to maintain active lives after the death of their spouses. Both told me that they miss their partners deeply, even though the losses occurred a number of years ago. She reminisced about the blind date that began their relationship and how compatible they had been through the years. He admitted that he shouldn't be in his spacious apartment any longer because of his health but he can't bear the thought of leaving because everything around him his wife chose. He used to go to the grave every day, and we have another member who still visits his wife's grave a number of times a week.

We can't take for granted that simply because every elderly couple will eventually be parted by death and that in aging congregations there are plenty of widows and widowers that they aren't experiencing an ongoing sense of loss and loneliness. Both the Old and New Testaments tell us to honour widows and there is practical instruction on how to demonstrate respect and care, including prayer. In biblical times it was because of vulnerability and poverty. Today it is often an issue of displacement and sadness, but the directive is still important. We need to remember that a sense of loss doesn't end at some arbitrary point in time after a death.

This is not about pity. The folk I visited are admirable, active people. Yet they grieve.

Any thoughts about this, and about how we might do better? For those of you who have lived through this loss, how did you feel and how did your congregation respond?

1 comment:

Judy McKnight said...

The loss of a well - matched, beloved spouse does leave a huge hole that nothing can fill... when mine died, 10 years ago, I knew my church was the place I needed to be - I was treated with great respect and sympathy when I sat crying through the first service of worship without him there...and was always included (and still am, today) in the life of the church, as a person of value on my own ... SO much appreciated.