Grieve and rejoice!
by Ken D. Fuquay, M.A.C.E. / M.Div, Carolina School of Broadcasting
In this moment–in this very second as these words leave my lips, there are persons who are feeling the full measure of grief. In this moment, we stand with them, and they stand with us. They are not alone. And we are not alone.
Three years ago on Palm Sunday, our family pet of 15 years took its last breath as I held it. The following Sunday, Easter Sunday, my Mom who had battled multiple myeloma for 11 years, had some sort of mini-stroke. She fell, broke her wrist, was taken to the Emergency Room, and by 10am on Easter Monday, we found ourselves gathered around her bedside as she was admitted to hospice care in Greensboro, North Carolina. The following Saturday, while my mother still lay under hospice care, I walked the aisle and graduated with a Masters of Arts in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Seminary. My parents, who had supported that endeavor, were unable to witness the graduation. The following Friday at 6:04am, my Mom breathed her last breath with me holding her hand. Two days later we celebrated Mother’s Day with my Mother’s body lying in state at the funeral home. As I wrote in my journal, those three weeks were like the swinging of a pendulum—-I moved from deep sadness to extreme joy, from extreme joy to deep sadness, joy to sadness, sadness to joy.
Last year, a bright young 15-year old artist who attends our church asked me a simple yet poignant question. He asked, “What is your favorite emotion?” It was a question I had never been asked. I engaged the young man in conversation and as we talked, I realized in the depth of my spirit that joy and grief come from the same place inside of us.
I am convinced that without the deepness of our grief, we can never fully understand and appreciate the richness of life. Without tears, our laughter has no value. With no struggle there can be no appreciation for freedom. Without loss there can never truly be any “having.” And, I am convinced without grief, there can never truly be any joy.
I answered Kyle’s question, “Grief is my favorite emotion.”
A few weeks later, Kyle presented me with a mask that he sculpted. He named the mask Dolum. Dolum comes from the latin word “Dolore” which means, “deep sadness, grief.” If you look closely at Dolum, you will see the tears of grief on his face–but don’t stop there–keep looking, you’ll see that those tears have dropped on fertile ground and in that place, new life is springing up.
In the chapel at LDHH at Southminster, there is a journal. People who wander into the chapel are invited to share their thoughts. I found these words written in that journal:
How badly will this hurt?
How deep will the cut be?
How weighty the grief?
How badly it will hurt is dependent solely on how goodly I have loved;
The cut will be only as deep as the measure of joy I experienced.
And the grief? Well, while weighty, I am confident that the grief will be in direct proportion to the measure of the life I mourn. And I would not trade either.
In closing, I give you the gift of these words from White Elk, a Native American sage: “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice!”Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, grief, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster, Light Up A Life comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.