Navigating Grief

Grief. It affects the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the educated and uneducated; it marches across social, racial, physical boundaries. If you have loved and attached, you will grieve when that person dies. Grief also occurs for many losses beyond death such as the loss of a relationship, a job, or a dream. Yes if we live long enough, grief will affect us all.

Sadly, it seems there is more training given for pet adoption than dealing with grief. Have you ever taken a course on grief? Most have not. Somehow we are just expected to know how to “deal with it.” I am learning just how hungry people are for training. They want to know how to walk with a friend, church member, or coworker in grief.

Last week I was privileged to lead the Athletes in Action’s (AIA) headquarter staff through my Navigating Grief training. Seventy-five staff engaged for two hours on this topic. I stayed for Q & A for over an hour and didn’t even get to speak with everyone who wanted to talk.

Ministry teams, pastoral teams, businesses are all affected by an employee going through grief. How someone is cared for during their journey (which is FAR longer than we may imagine) will determine if they remain in the organization, church, or ministry team. I know many people who have walked off the job because they were so poorly handled at their greatest time of need. The workplace does not need to take on total responsibility, but compassionate care goes a LONG way.

I received this email from an Executive Team member the night of my training:

“Dana, Thank you very much for teaching our staff about the misconceptions, what to expect, and how to help in regards to grief. You gave us such wisdom! I feel better equipped to help someone else to walk through grief and I also better understand how to deal with the grief of my own. I actually used some of your wisdom with a friend tonight.”

It is an honor to bring this important taboo topic into the light; to educate and empower people to be more comfortable moving toward someone in grief verses away. Trusting God for more opportunities.

Winter’s Beauty

A paradox perhaps? Winter marches in robbing trees, grass, and sky of color. Indiana winter = gray. The temperatures swing from 40 to sub-zero within hours granting few days of sunshine. The gray skies are a recipe for depression, grumbling, negativity, and chattering teeth. It would seem winter has nothing good to offer. And yet . . . it invites me to slow down enjoy a simpler way of life, and to search for beauty seemingly hidden.

The years I lived in southern California I was often worn out by March. The mild weather always beckoned us to be outside, do more, fill our hours with activity, and squeeze the most out of every day. We never had an ice or snow day. We were never forced to slow down, curl up under blankets, sip hot tea, be still, and let our minds wander. It seems winter provides space to ponder things in life that only silence and stillness can yield.

Winter invites us to look for beauty anywhere everywhere. For instance, winter’s gray skies are a canvas for dramatic sunsets of deep red and purple hues or the pastels of pink, blue, and yellow as seen through our glass door (above) covered in a sheet of ice.

Where do you find beauty in winter? Literally; or metaphorically within your own soul?