M1—(frustrated) I just talked to the doctor a few minutes ago….she has decided not to be intubated.
S1—What does that mean? What are the next steps?
M2—The doctor said they are moving toward comfort measures this evening.
S2—(confused) Will we get to see her again?
M3—(holding back tears) Yes, the nurse said they were working to coordinate something through facetime this evening….are you available for a call later this evening?…. Is that something you want to do?
S3—(shocked) You mean we won’t be able to come into the hospital? This is the last time we will be able to see her before she dies?
“Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth—teach it to me—because you are the God who saves me.
I put my hope in you all day long. Lord, remember
your compassion and faithful love—they are forever!”
(Psalm 25:4-6; CEB)
It’s complicated….grief, that is. Grief becomes complicated anytime the process becomes stuck. Sometimes this is the result of forces out of our control (hello 2020) while other times it is due to the inability to continue the grieving process. Conversations like this have been played out time and time again across our nation over the past year. Families unable to be together and share the gift of touch before saying goodbye has become part of our new reality in the age of COVID-19. However, all is not lost. Together we can learn to befriend our own grievances and move with the rhythms they bring. As grief expert Dr. Alan Wolfelt writes in his book The Wilderness of Grief: Finding Your Way “I have learned that we cannot go around the pain that is the wilderness of our grief. Instead, we must journey all through it, sometimes shuffling along the less strenuous side paths, sometimes plowing directly into the dark center…In your willingness to embrace the pain, you honor it.”
During this Lenten season invest time thinking about your own wilderness of grief.
If you are just entering it, look for others as traveling companions.
If you are in the midst of it, listen to the rhythm and surrender to the song.
If you have come through the other side, look for those wandering in grief’s wilderness and hold space for their struggle.
Together we can traverse the wilderness of grief and just maybe come to find truth in the words of Ram Dass “death…is [like] taking off a tight shoe which you have worn well.”—Eric Coleman
Prayer: “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.”—Winnie the Pooh