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Chaplain's Corner: When You’re Tired of Running from Grief

Thursday, August 31, 2017

By Reverend Vona Wilson, YMCA Chaplain

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." – Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew 5:4

Grief is like the house guest that shows up uninvited, ignores your schedule, and refuses to leave. It comes when we have lost something or someone we care deeply about—a love that is hard or even impossible to let go of.

Just when we think the grief is "under control," a song, smell, or calendar date will pop up, and we find ourselves right back in the pain. And yet...without loving, we do not know the pain of its absence. Without cherishing something, we do not know the gift it is in our lives. We cannot have love without the pain.

Our shared sorrows

Grief hit our city last month when Max Barry, son of Mayor Megan Barry, passed away. On any given day, there are too many families grieving the death of children. You only have to walk into a busy emergency room or trauma or cancer wing to know this reality. Hospice beds are full of people waiting to make their transition from this life to the next.

Grief comes in other forms as well. High school graduates pack their bags and leave home. Longtime employees face sudden job changes. Active exercisers encounter serious injuries. Families are forced to move due to the rising costs of their neighborhoods. The list could go on and on. Eventually, we get tired of trying to run away from life’s inevitable griefs—both big and small.

The gifts of grief

Finally, we stop and ask, “What’s so 'blessed' about mourning?” It’s this: in grieving we learn vital things we could not any other way. One of the most life-changing things we can discover is that we are not alone. Our creator God is with us. A prayer for help will open us up to the peace that comes from God, the peace that stays with us in the middle of heartbreak and challenge.

When grief comes knocking on our door in the middle of the night, remember that God is present, steadfast and willing to walk through it with us. His power is beyond us, and even a moment of that divine help is a blessing beyond words. For who among us, when our hearts are broken, does not need or want the comfort of one who loves us more than anyone else? Indeed, God created us with the ability to express joy as well as sorrow; let us not forget this fullness of life.

The priest Simon Tugwell shared this wisdom: “'Blessed are those who mourn' is, paradoxically, a more necessary message than ‘Rejoice in the Lord always,’ because there can be no true rejoicing until we have stopped running away from mourning.”

Let’s pray together

God, please comfort everyone in our community who is grieving for any reason. Reveal yourself to each one in a way that they will know that your love is present, real, and that you will not leave them alone. And give us courage when we are grieving to ask for your peace and comfort.

We also humbly and boldly ask that you would equip our Y community—members, staff, donors, volunteers and their families—with kindness, mercy, and love to share, for we do not know the grief any person may be carrying today. Help us to be your presence of peace. We trust you and we love you. In the name of Christ, Amen.

Learn more about the Y's Spirit and Mind Ministries

Growing in spirit, mind and body is the surest path to holistic well-being. The Y offers Spirit and Mind workshops, seminars and small group classes, including a group for those who are navigating the waters of grief. Let us help support your growth in physical, emotional, spiritual and financial health.

YMCA of Middle Tennessee

Association Office
1000 Church St.
Nashville, TN 37203
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