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Home » Pastor Peter » Grace and Grief Brain

When working with families after the loss of a loved one, I have often commented about the normal feelings of being overwhelmed, circling, or floating through the multitude of decisions that lay before them. Things that used to be so easy to balance might feel impossible to accomplish or take significantly longer.

This is our brain on grief. Overloaded with thoughts of sadness, isolation, fear of the unknown, and the significance of those dearest to us. Grief Brain may affect our memory or our concentration or our mood. It’s a reminder that we are emotional creations, as much or more than we are logical ones.

I’ve thought about and felt Grief Brain a lot in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with so many of the people in my life processing the emotional weight of missing significant parts of their lives: loved ones, friends, jobs, milestone celebrations (retirement parties, baptisms, meeting new babies, weddings, graduations, Affirmation of Baptism). All of this wears us down, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

And all of it is normal.

But here is the biggest reminder for me: the only way through grief and trauma is grace.

God’s grace poured into us through the Risen Christ. Our God-gifted grace for each other. Our God-gifted grace for ourselves.

There is no way around or over-function over.

The only thing that helps when we are floating with Grief Brain is to breathe and remember that we are held by God’s love.

May you continue to be held in and through and with God’s abundant love,

Pastor Peter

One of my clergy colleagues recently shared this blessing from Jan Richardson that speaks to this grace when it feels like our world(s) are ending.

Blessing When the World is Ending by Jan Richardson

Look, the world
is always ending
somewhere.

Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.

Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the gun,
the knife,
the fist.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the slammed door,
the shattered hope.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone,
the television,
the hospital room.

Somewhere
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you,
will not mend you,
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
again.

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