Thursday, September 03, 2015

Suffering and Hope

Image result for grief

Yesterday I received a phone call from a friend who has been asked to preside at a very challenging memorial service. Any funeral or memorial includes loss and grief, even when the person who has died lived a long and meaningful life. It is so much more difficult when those who gather know that the loss has been tragic, in this case a suicide.

The person who died was an atheist, while the parents are Christian and a sister is Buddhist. This is the reality of our culture. People come together for a service because it is important to do so, but there aren't necessarily shared convictions about what comes after this life, if anything.

In our conversation we spoke about the importance of affirming the support of friends in the midst of great loss, including those who are part of our faith community. We also acknowledged the importance of naming suffering, not as something we skirt around but as a reality we all must travel through in life.

This is an underlying theme in Buddhism but I have reminded Buddhist friends that the cross of Jesus names our Christian mystery that God has entered into human existence, sharing our suffering, and the agony of death. We are resurrection people, but "beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand."

I know this lovely family and they are not strangers to suffering and sadness, even before this death. They have also demonstrated remarkable resilience and never stopped being kind and caring to others. I have confidence that the friend who called me will be honest and hopeful in her role. I pray that the God of peace and new life will be the sustaining strength for the family.



roger said...

When I hear about tragic events such as suicide, cancer, fatal motor vehicle crashes, it is a real reminder of the sheer magnitude of the suffering in society. Every day, millions of people are dealing with their own devastating dramas.

We take so much for granted - going to work, making dinner, name it. Perhaps because last week I had yet another friend die in her 50's, it has been making me think about mortality even more - perhaps obsessively.

I really feel I have reached the "TSN turning point" in my life. I am trying to live more in the present and to be more mindful. When friends who had been seemingly healthy and vibrant suddenly drop dead, it kinda changes your outlook on life!

janet.rice said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Mundy said...

Argh. Somehow your sensitive and thoughtful observations were deleted Janet, and I can't seem to retrieve them. I think I went to express my thanks to both of you and hit delete rather than comment. My apologies! I hope that you will repost them.

janet.rice said...

Hi David - not sure what I can recall (I'm old!)

I concur with Roger that some days the magnitude of suffering in society is overwhelming. In the last month, two families, both close to us, have experienced the loss of a young person by suicide.

You have a very special talent for finding expression for sentiments which I struggle to define. And naming our thoughts/feelings related to grief is so important. We remember the dignity and comfort our son's memorial provided to us. And our friend who is presiding at this week-end's "remembering" will follow your fine example.

Yes, we need to live in the present, and always have an eye to paying forward.

David Mundy said...

Thank you Jan.