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Articles Worth Reading: Grief and the Orthodox Church

I recently stumbled upon an article from the St. Paul Orthodox Church in Frehold, New Jersey, USA.  Lots of good advice here about how those professing the Christian faith can handle their grief.  The author(s) point out that getting through grief takes work, that different people don't grieve the same way, and that Christians oftentimes cannot feel hope without a corresponding sense of loss -- and that's OK!  Also noteworthy is that Jesus himself could not hold back his grief in the Bible: "For we must be reminded that Jesus is recorded as having wept on two occasions. He looked out over his beloved city, Jerusalem, and poured out tears of grief because she had denied her destiny. His grief was an expression of His love and His disappointment at the coming tragedy for the people He so loved. Jesus wept at the thought of the unrealized dreams and the unfulfilled hopes which the eventual destruction of Jerusalem would mean (Luke 19: 41 - 44). Jesus also wept when He v

Practices That Have Helped: Focusing on the Present

Over the last few weeks, I have heard from multiple people, in multiple places and circumstances, saying the same thing: stay focused on the present.  That can be a very difficult thing to do for those of us who are grief-stricken.  Oftentimes our minds are going in every which direction and living in the present moment can be a major challenge for us.  Our minds spend a lot of time in the past, focusing on past memories of our deceased loved ones.  We may have a strong yearning and aching in our hearts for a time in our lives that is over and will not be returning.  Our minds might then drift into the future, and then we can become anxious and overwhelmed, thinking about all the negative things that could happen to us -- we simply have no way of envisioning a positive future for ourselves.  Life might begin to feel very bleak and dire for us. The fact is that none of us knows what the future holds.  Think about where you were 10, 20, 30 years ago.  Did you ever imagine back then that

Personal Musings: Dreaming About Fish, Death, and Resurrection

The night before last, I had a very interesting dream.  I can't recall a lot of the details, but I do recall standing near a huge table, and I could see a fish lying on that table.  The fish was barely alive -- I could see it with its mouth open, breathing slowly in a very labored fashion.  I then saw a large aquarium tank sitting on the table, and without hesitation I picked up the fish and tossed it into the tank.  I then saw it begin to wriggle in the water, slowly regaining its breath -- and then it began to dart around quickly, its life and energy regained.  That's all I can remember.... I wonder if there was a message for me in that dream.  One of the hardest things for me to witness was my mom and our pets slowing down and watching their life dwindle down to nothing.  But maybe I have the wrong perspective -- maybe our earthly lives really are like being "fish out of water" -- we can survive out of that water, briefly -- and then we return to the water to the S

Words of Comfort: The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita, a revered text from the Hindu religion, was produced during the first millenium B.C.E. Originally written in Sanskrit, there are over 300 translations in English alone. I particularly like this translation of verse 2:28 from Juan MascarĂ³: "Invisible before birth are all beings and after death invisible again. They are seen between two unseens. Why in this truth find sorrow?"

Philosophy of Dying: Confucius and Zhuang Zhou

Alexus McLeod is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Asian Studies at the University of Connecticut.  In 2017 he penned an article: "What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About Dealing With Our Own Grief".   He references writings from Zhuang Zhou, the Daoist philosopher who lived during the 4th Century B.C.E.  One particular insightful incident occurred when a friend of his, Hui Shi, finds him joyfully beating on a drum following the death of his wife, and reprimands Zhuang Zhou for his behavior.  Zhuang's response? "Zhuang Zhou replies that when his wife first died, he was as upset as anyone would be following such a loss. But then he reflected on the circumstances of her origins – how she came to be through changes in the elements that make up the cosmos. He was able to shift his vision from seeing things from the narrowly human perspective to seeing them from the larger perspective of the world itself. He realized that her death was just another of th

Words of Comfort: Interview with R. Craig Hogan, PhD

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I've really enjoyed listening to Sandra Champlain's "We Don't Die" Radio.   One of her most recent interviews was with Dr. Craig Hogan.  Dr. Hogan is co-founder of the website Seekreality.com , along with author and attorney Roberta Grimes.   During the interview with Sandra, he claims that people who have died and crossed over to the afterlife take on the appearance of when they were in the prime of life (generally in their 20s to 30s), and that our deceased loved ones are much closer to us than we think they are (and that they want to engage with us!)  He also talks about how our purpose on Earth is to learn lessons, love others, and how using our lives to serve others less fortunate than ourselves can be one of the best things we can do to lessen our grief.  I personally found it a wonderfully reassuring and compassionate interview.  Again, my words don't do it justice.  I know I sound like a broken record, but again, watc

Loss Through Music: George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass"

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Former Beatles guitarist George Harrison wrote "All Things Must Pass" in January of 1969.  Originally planned to be on the Beatles' Let It Be album, the song didn't make the final cut.  There's debate over whether John Lennon and Paul McCartney didn't really like the song, or if George wasn't fully up to having his band mates perform with him on this particular track.  The song was later released in late 1970 over Harrison's highly-acclaimed album of the same name. According to Wikipedia, author Elliot Huntley described the song as a "haunting hymn about the mortality of everything."  Some have speculated that Harrison was writing about the Beatles slow descent towards their break-up during that period, but others have noticed that Harrison's solo version of the song may have taken on an added dimension, after the death of his mother, Louise, in July 1970 at the age of 59.