WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

The Guest of Grief

By Monica Dobbins

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them.”
― Paulo Coelho

Ever since the beginning of this school year, I've had a hard time getting ready in the morning. Hard time getting out of bed, unfocused, glued to my phone, just wasting time generally. I've easily recognized that this is weird behavior for me—I’m a morning person and a go-getter overall—but couldn't put my finger on why I was doing this.

This morning, it finally dawned on me: it’s grief. I've been unconsciously grieving the fact that my daughter no longer needs my help getting ready for school. She gets up by her alarm, gets dressed by herself, makes her own breakfast and lunch, and heads out the door on time and walks to school by herself.

Since she was in kindergarten, she and I have always gotten ready together, in mirror fashion, doing the same things at the same time so that she could develop an independent routine (and so that I didn't spend mornings yelling at her). It was just easier, with one kid, to do everything together. That's not happening now, and it probably won't ever again. I hadn't really processed what that means until now.

On the one hand, it means freedom: sleep later! do yoga in the morning! leave early and have coffee out somewhere! I’m looking forward to a time when I can embrace those possibilities. But first, I need to feel this grief, embrace it for a while, and then think about what life will be like as she grows in independence and wisdom. I need to think about letting go gracefully.

Sometimes grief sends notice ahead of time; sometimes, it shows up as an unwelcome, uninvited guest. Either way, I know, in my head, that grief always has love in its suitcase, and if I let it, it will unpack that love for me to look at and admire.

Beloved Parent of All Living, I lay my grief in your hands. Hold it gently as I weep. Wipe my tears as I return to the gifts that remain. Expand my heart to hold all the gratitude that rises up in place of that grief. Turn my face toward the sun, and accept my song of praise.

About the Author

Monica Dobbins

Rev. Monica Dobbins is the Assistant Minister of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Monica lives in downtown Salt Lake with her spouse and daughter; enjoys hiking and knitting; and misses sweet tea desperately.


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