Finding a Place to Move Forward

Posted on May 17, 2017

By: The Rev. Maureen Doherty, Continuous Care Coordinator

When we lose someone we love it can be difficult to find a place, a space, to deal with the reality that your loved one is really gone. You may long to feel some connection, to ponder what was unique in your relationship, to deal with the reality that life is different now. Finding that “sacred space” can be a way forward as you grieve. For some, I would like to suggest that the readings from Scripture that follow Easter might be a place for you to go.

On Easter Sunday, we read (Luke Ch. 24, Mark Ch. 15, in John Ch. 20, in Matthew Ch. 28) that women who were friends with Jesus went to His tomb and found that the stone had been rolled back, and Jesus was no longer there. Jesus was dead; He was gone. Their hope that His death was a bad dream was shattered. The women were shocked, and they were bewildered. As they lingered in the garden they heard a message: “they saw an angel,” they heard, “yes, Jesus is gone.” “Go and tell His friends.” 

Later, Peter and John go to see and yes, Jesus was gone. Truly their lives were changed, turned upside down. They were at a loss. What now? Before we can move forward we must accept that death is real, it is painful, and life will never be the same. Yet in the Easter story there is also a promise of new life.

 In the days after Jesus’ death, the disciples found themselves gathering together—they could not grieve this loss alone. Scripture tells us that they experienced the presence of Jesus in different places. 

One story invites us to come and listen in as two friends are walking on the road to Emmaus. (Luke Ch. 24) Jesus himself walked by their side. Often as people grieve they tell about the deceased being present to them in unique situations. The disciples didn’t recognize Him, but as they walked with Him they were able to talk about their friend, their pain, their fears. He listened and they knew that they were not alone. The story tells of Jesus recalling memories that would strengthen them, telling them what was important to treasure as they slowly moved forward.

As the journey unfolds, they sit together at a meal. In “breaking bread,” something that in their lives together was so significant, they knew that yes, Jesus was gone, but would always be with them. Treasuring little and big things that were done together matters.

Another story tells of some seeing Jesus in another familiar place—along the sea shore. (John 21) After a night of fishing, Jesus calls out, “Have you caught anything?” Peter was so sure that he was seeing Jesus, he jumps from the boat and swims to shore to be greeted by a cookout. Jesus was grilling fish. Peter had denied Jesus before he died; this story goes on to give room to “fix what was been broken” in your relationship. Jesus gives Peter a place to heal his pain, his loss, and He assures Peter that all is well. As they eat together, Jesus tells the disciples that they will all move forward and life will go on. It will not always be without pain, grief, and hardship; in those times they need to remember this day; He is with them and in this memory, they will find strength.

A favorite passage for so many in times of grief is the story of the Good Shepherd (John 10 and Psalm 23).  In the image of the Shepherd, we are assured that Jesus is with us. He will guard the gate so that we are safe, we know that He is the constant in our lives. He will lead us to fresh pastures and water; we just need to remember and trust. The story doesn’t say that we will not be confronted with obstacles, but it does tell us to trust in what we know—in the love that we have in our hearts, to find strength in our truths, and to go from there.  The images are a well from which to draw fresh hope!

In most of the Easter appearances, Jesus offers those present “peace.” That is my prayer and wish for all as you walk the journey of grief and as you slowly “turn your world right side up again.” Peace.

As I write, I know that not all who read this will find a place in Scripture to remember, to find strength, to have a place to go. We all have different beliefs and ways of dealing with life and death.

I would hope that each person can find words, people, places, and communities of support that remind you that in your relationship with the deceased there was love, there is space to heal, and in remembering the stories that you made together you will draw strength to journey forward.

Memories can be your anchor and your peace.


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