Imagine that our community exists on a lake, with some of our congregants lounging at the shore, while others are in canoes and sailboats on the lake itself. Some of us are in boats that are sturdy and well stocked with supplies. Others of us are in flimsy boats, easily overturned, and with no supplies on board.
Suddenly, a meteor crashes into our lake, an event that affects us all, but in different ways. Those closest to the crash are overturned in their boats, no matter how sturdy. Farther away, waves rock the sturdy boats, but the people on board are fine, dry and safe. Those in the flimsy boats take on water and perhaps begin to sink. Those along the shore witness the crash, but are essentially unaffected.
Such is the impact of the recent death of Rev. Margo McKenna on our community.
Newer congregants who never knew Margo stand at the shore, witnessing the grief of the rest of the community. People closest to Margo are hit hardest, grieving the loss of a friend, confidante, and source of inspiration.
And how do you know if you are in a sturdy boat or a leaky boat? It is natural that many of us will have a variety of emotions, especially given the unexpected nature of Margo’s death. But please pay special attention to your grief if you are dealing with other life stressors at this time: mental or physical illness, caring for a loved one, job stresses or unemployment, relationship difficulties. Life stressors do pile up, and our ability to cope diminishes when we have more and more to deal with.
Dr. William Worden identifies four “tasks” of grieving: 1) to accept the reality of the loss, 2) to work through the pain of grief, 3) to adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing, and 4) to emotionally relocate the deceased and to move on with life. That last task occurs when we move away from feelings of loss and longing, finding the ability to hold the memory of our loved one in such a way that we are able to go on living without them.
You are the only one who knows how you are doing in your boat. Please reach out to me, our Lay Chaplains, or to friends to let us know if you are feeling overwhelmed or “stuck” in your grief. Having someone to talk with is one of the best coping strategies you will find.
I am here to support you in whatever way I can.
Bright blessings, Sharon