Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Grieving In the Woods

Book: Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup

Kate Braestrup writes about her life after husband Drew, a Maine state trooper, was killed by a driver who lost control. This isn’t as much a memoir of grieving as it’s a memoir of living with grief.

She accepts the cards she’s been dealt, having learned from the death of a beloved family pet when she was a child that death was part of life. As she makes adjustments and goes on living, taking care of her children as a single parent, she drops grief into her narrative in telling moments, like when she was doing something like cooking at the stove and just starts crying, and her children crying as they do chores. There’s a lot of snot and crying. The book is a statement that people should not give up in the face of tragedy because there is hope.

After debating about it for so long, she finally entered seminary and now works as a chaplain in the Maine Warden Service, providing presence and comfort to the families of those who were lost in the woods as the game wardens look for them. She doesn't speak much about the theology of faith, but focuses instead on where faith is put into action. This is life, she says. This has happened. God’s love only comes through us, so let’s get busy and help people. 

She shares how important her community was in helping her cope. The center of the book is the family, saying that the place to be when life frays is here, because you help each other through the rough times.

She tells memorable stories, mixes fun ones in with the sad, and includes scripture in the narrative when she thinks of it, letting her thoughts flow without division. Everything is sacred because it is part of Creation.

What really touched me were the times when she writes of being with someone who is waiting to find out if their loved one is alive or dead, and offers a prayer that opens the moment to what is unseen. Or she prays where someone has died, and sanctifies the place. In these moments that are held between life and death, the holy is present.

This book will help people as they are coming out of grief and wondering what they do now with their lives, and it will help those who have no grief experience and want to help someone who is grieving. Kate says listen to them. Be present.

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