Reflections on grief, loss and mourning

Reflections on grief, loss and mourning

“It is better to go into the house of mourning than the house of feasting." Ecclesiastes 7:2

Grief, loss and mourning - not your typical topics of conversation around the water cooler at work or over a dinner conversation with friends. Nevertheless, Solomon’s words from Ecclesiastes make us sit up and take notice for the simple reason that they are so poignant and at odds with our tendency to immerse ourselves in the pleasures and extravagances that bombard us in today’s sensory-seeking world. Having recently attended three funerals of those from what Tom Brokaw labeled as “the Greatest Generation,“ I couldn’t help but notice the emphasis on tradition and reverence shown throughout the entire processes from viewing to burial honoring these fine people. Their lives were celebrated, their legacies revisited and their loss emphasized and memorialized. All three included services in local churches here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, several of which were majestic edifices raised up at a time when places of worship were held in highest esteem by the people and communities they served.

Our aging area communities have deep-rooted traditions which followed their early founders across oceans and borders as they carved out new lives in this country. In today’s world, where the “newest or latest“ are celebrated and coveted by many (if not most ), it is both refreshing and inspiring to observe ancestral traditions, long-held values and honored practices continuing in use. Throughout these rituals, one cannot help but feel the powerful presence of faith.

So what are the take-aways from these time-honored ceremonies and traditions – all of which are meant to help us reconcile ourselves to the loss of those who were influential in our lives? Perhaps the need to respectfully pause from our worldly pursuits and pleasures (or as Solomon might say, “a little less ‘dancing’“) and to ponder and reflect on the brevity that our lives here represent in the grand scheme of things and to focus on the time left to us as we move “down the line .“ Let us rededicate ourselves to live our lives to the fullest with the remaining time given to us from Above.

Let us also pause to reflect upon and appreciate those who have left us, and to reconcile ourselves to their loss. After all, death itself is only one part of the Circle of Life. And let us resist the urge to somehow achieve “closure“ or to “ get over“ the losses that come our way through the passing of those so dear to us. For it is truly better to enter the house of mourning in order to keep our perspective well-grounded and our focus fixed on the important things in life: those people who are still with us and around us.

Author: Dr. Lee Davis, MD, F.A.C.O.O.G. (Fellow in the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians & Gynecologists), Bereavement Support, Allied Services Palliative & Hospice

For additional group, family or individual counselling and grief support call the Bereavement Coordinator at 570-341-4660 or click here.