Tuesday, May 20, 2008

church and grief

In the church circles we currently move in, a couple of middle aged men have died. Both professionals, both well known and involved in their communities. Both lives cruelly ended before their time, leaving a hole in their family.

One observation I make is that church doesn't seem to change much. We still sing the same tired choruses. The same people still jiggle on the spot and raise their hands.

We don't really seem to know what to do with death. We're uncomfortable with grief. Someone I recently met said he knew people who stopped attending church after the 11 September attacks - because the choruses just seemed to continue regardless.

Please don't think I'm having a go at anyone here - I'm sure there are mitigating circumstances. Maybe few people at the service I attended knew the deceased. Maybe the time for grief was elsewhere.

When my wife's grandfather died a few weeks ago, there were few signs of grief from the close family - I think because we'd seen his health disintegrate and death felt like a release for everyone involved. Maybe for us, the grief will creep up and affect us in other ways. The only person who was really upset at the graveside was a relative who saw him very irregularly and knew him best in younger life, and I guess felt the loss of burying an old man who he had such fond childhood memories.

The other week there was a very beautiful moment in a service we attended. Burdened as I am with many doubts, I stood for much of it in silence. As I listened to others singing, I heard a very clear, very out-of-tune voice with a strong Spanish accent. And as I listened more, I felt that the clear voice was leading the singing, and everyone else was the accompanying chorus of a great solo. It was a spine-tingling moment, and for a short while I found that I had some release.



Blogger Karin said...

I guess English churches are mostly full of English people and the English don't do grief very well. This may be true of other Northern Europeans, too.

Church isn't very counter-culture, especially not in a positive and Jesus-like way, on the whole.

Sorry to hear about your and H's loss, Joe.

6:34 AM  

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