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 a memoir of grieving. It’s a memoir of learning to live with grief.

She accepts the cards she’s been dealt, having learned, from the loss 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 is 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 says that people should not give up in the face of tragedy because there is still life to be lived, and life is a gift.

After debating about it for a long time, Braestrup finally entered seminary and began working as a chaplain in the Maine Warden Service, providing presence and comfort to the families of those who were waiting as the game wardens looked for their loved ones lost in the woods. She doesn't speak much about the theology of faith, but focuses on where faith is put into action. She says, this is life. This happened. God’s love only comes through us, so we need to get busy and help people who are suffering.

She shares how important the support of her family and community were in helping her cope. The place to be when life breaks apart is here, she says, because you help each other through the rough times.

She tells memorable stories of life in Maine, 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 in Braestrup’s world because everything is part of Creation.

What touched me the most were the times when she writes of being with someone who is waiting for the wardens to return, waiting in the space that hesitates between life and death, and offers a prayer that opens the moment to what is unseen. Or she prays where someone has died and makes the holy 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 haven’t lost anyone and want to help someone who is grieving.

Kate simple says, Listen to them. Be present.

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