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Lifting the Lingering Loneliness of Grief by The Reverend Maureen Doherty

Posted on January 07, 2019

Long after the funeral of a loved one, long after everyone thinks you should be over it and moving on, long after you feel like you should be doing better, when friends, family, co-workers have moved on, even when you have moved into a new routine of life, there is, for many, one aspect of grief that lingers in heart and soul and makes the journey long; that is loneliness.  Truly at times it feels like the darkness of night is always present.  

There are many recommendations for working through grief that truly are beneficial, eat well, sleep, get up every day, go to community activities, find new interests, join a study group, do something that is fun, be with family and friends, balance each day and your expectations.  Yes, yes and yes; this all helps, but in reality, at times the lingering sense of darkness just will not lift. 

In the service for Night Prayer, in the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer there is a final prayer that speaks to how we might tend to our heart and soul as the day ends and we anticipate a new tomorrow.  While not all are believers and not all pray each day, maybe in saying this prayer or allowing ourselves to settle into an “end of the day deep stillness, in time we will find a new sense of peace that will be gift as each individual journey of loss moves toward a new day breaking through the darkness of night.

I offer these reflections on this Night Prayer. Be still now. 

Lord, it is night, the night is for stillness, let me be still in the presence of God.” Breathe in, be still for a minute, shhhhh. 

It is night after a long day.” Yes, the loneliness is long; own it, touch it.  Open a space for it to lift. 

What has been done has been done, what has not been done has not been done, let it be.” Yes, now let it be, don’t relive the day, be still, it is done.

The night is dark.” Feel the night darkness and the darkness of your loneliness.  Pray,

Let my fears of the darkness of the world and my own life rest in you.” Believe in this possibility; let your darkness rest in God’s hands.  It is okay.  Feel yourself letting go for a minute.

The night is quiet.  Let the quietness of your peace enfold me, all dear to me, and all who have no peace.”  Be still.  Feel the comfort of God’s arms around you, hear the quiet in your soul. Rest there a minute.

As you prepare to go to bed remember… “The night heralds the dawn.  Let me look expectantly to a new day, new possibilities.” Yes, new possibilities.  Believe in this.  Open your quiet heart to the darkness lifting, maybe just a little, but lifting. 

In your name I pray.”

Loneliness is about a deep soul darkness, it is real.  But the darkness heralds a new day, it will come.  Does that mean no more grief, no more loneliness?  No, it does mean that the sun will break through and there is new light that shows new possibilities for walking forward and shaping the life you are called to live now.  “Amen.”  Be still, rest in this.  Go to bed now, the day is done, be still, rest well.·

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