October 18, 2016

We're Not in this Alone

The day moves along. I’m editing and answering emails, troubleshooting a print delay and catching up with coworkers, when a Post-it note jolts me back. Michael, it says, in purple ink. Check on status of the Advent app.

Without warning, I’m thrust back into grief, remembering that Michael can’t check on the status of anything anymore. He died suddenly about a month ago. He was 46. And it wasn’t fair. Isn’t fair.

Of course, death doesn’t play by the rules and only take the old, those who have lived long and fulsome lives. Sometimes it snatches a father and husband, a talented graphic designer who after a lifetime of searching found a place where his work was his ministry, his gifts an offering.

Thank God we are in a place of faith and prayer. On the Monday after his death, our staff gathered at the conference table as we always do at 10 every morning. We read the meditation from Forward Day by Day. Normally we pray for requests sent in online from around the world – a page or two of people hurting and asking for intercession. I suggested that on this day, we just say the names so we could move on to our own grief. But the coworker holding the prayers started to choke up.

What’s wrong? I asked.

She answered, wobbly-voiced. The online prayers are all about Michael, about people offering their love and support to the staff and to his family.

Without warning, we were thrust into a new place, into the embrace of people we didn’t know but who loved and lifted us in prayer. Emails and Facebook messages told us about the impact that Michael had through his creative work and the love that people have for the ministry of Forward Movement.

Church-wide organizations sent flowers and fruit baskets and the kindest, sincerest notes of sorrow and support. The Presiding Bishop’s office sent a note, saying that the staff’s Holy Eucharist was offered in memory of Michael.

Perhaps one of the few gifts of grief is an understanding that when one part of the Body of Christ is broken, the others are pained as well.

It’s a long process, this grief. A smell, a smile, a story, and we’re back on the edge, experiencing the loss all over again. But through the notes and cards and calls, we know that we’re not in this alone. Our communities, known and unknown, are here to help with the healing. And that is amazing grace.

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