Fall Issue 8
Going on with Grief:
Reflections on Last Week's Living Well Forum
By Jolene Nolte
Last Wednesday, Regent had a Living Well forum with Ross Hastings on the subject of grief.
Ross began by stating he is not an expert on grief and by acknowledging there are many types. It does not have to be the death of a loved one for it to “count.” Job loss, unwanted singleness, break ups, miscarriages, infertility, divorce, even the death of a pet or a celebrity whose life has somehow touched yours, counts.
Ross used his own story and book, Where Do Broken Hearts Go?, to frame the talk. The book’s title derives from, of all things, a One Direction song. How does Ross know a One Direction song, you ask? He relayed a story of being dragged along to a concert. He’d had the idea for a book on grief, but publishers had rejected the idea. “Grief doesn’t sell,” he was told. Then at the concert, watching a packed venue of One Direction fans obviously resonating with “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?”—a song expressing heartbreak, regret, and (complicated) grief—he sensed God nudging him to write the book.
Paradoxically, as Ross said, grief is both idiosyncratic and communal. Our grief is uniquely ours because it is particular to our own experience. And yet grief is common to us all. The pain of grief is tied to the fact that we are relational beings. Our healing is as well. “Healing” may give the wrong impression. God will one day finally and completely heal us, but until then, the task for the griever, Ross said, is not to reach resolution but to adapt.
It almost feels flippant to summarize Ross’ story because it is his to tell, and he does tell it in his book. So I will use his an excerpt from his publically available bio to give you the facts, “Ross lost his first wife Sharon to cancer in 2008 after 27 years of marriage. In 2011 he married Tammy Carrillo, who also lost her husband to cancer in 2008. Together they have five children.” Adapting to these facts is a major task. Ross described the first stage of grief as shock. “Shock is God’s anesthesia,” he said. While he is happily remarried, the shock remains. “I still can’t believe Sharon’s gone,” he said. I found it encouraging that Ross could speak so honestly about his process, and in doing so, embody that adaptation is possible even as the process of grieving is ongoing. The stages of grief are not neatly ordered consecutively. In fact, Ross showed several different models.
There is no one-size-fits-all with grief. but it is a process, and it’s important to give space to that. Ross quoted Christian Nestell Bovee: “Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.” Let yourself cry, be angry, disappointed, shocked, whatever you are feeling “with freedom in the presence of God,” Ross said.
Did Ross mention the Trinity? Of course he did. The pain of grief is part of the fact that we are relational beings, made in the image of the triune God.
Did he give pastoral advice? Of course he did. He commended the Psalms, such as Psalm 16, and reminded us that the Psalms are forty-percent lament. Also, Ross advised that we can ask God why. Don’t discourage people from asking that out of some hyper spirituality. Job asks why. We may not get our answer, but we can certainly ask. As a griever, Ross was advised, “Be gentle with yourself.” Likewise, he advised if you are caring for a person in grief, particularly in the initial shock, what is required is not preaching but presence.
Sitting in Room 100 listening to Ross last Wednesday while the rain poured outside, myself weary and my head raw, something shifted for me. Ross reminded me our Lord is “acquainted with grief, ” and listening to his story while sitting in a room of friends, acquaintances, faculty and staff who are on this journey, too, showed me I am not alone. I don’t know what specific grief each of us bears, but even in all its mysterious particularity, we are—even more mysteriously—not alone in it.
Righteous Legacy, Part 4
By Peter Cheung
Righteous Legacy is Peter's attempt to tell his interpretation of the story of Dr. Ho Feng-shan, better known as the Chinese Schindler, on stage. In Act One, Dr. Ho is shown to be a great diplomat of the Republic of China working in Vienna, Austria. The act ended with the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. In this issue, Act Two, Visas for Life, begins.
8 | New Boss
March 13, 1938. Consulate at 3 Beethoven Drive, Vienna. On the other side of the stage is the embassy of the Republic of China in Berlin.
Shan working at his desk. Phone rings. Shan picks up. On the phone, Chen enters on the other side of stage.
SHAN: Chinese legation in Vienna, Austria.
CHEN: Ho Feng-shan, I am Chen Chieh.
SHAN: Oh, Ambassador Chen, hello.
CHEN: I trust that you must know what will happen to the Chinese legation in Vienna, now that Austria is part of Germany.
SHAN: Yes, I will handle all the legation affairs as Consul General once we receive official notice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
CHEN: Good. And you, as Consul General, now directly report to me, Republic of China's ambassador to Germany, and follow my orders.
CHEN: Now, regarding the dealings with Jews at your consulate. Adapt to and accommodate with the new local policies. That is for our nation’s interest. You know how Generalissimo Chiang appreciates the relationship and the exchange with the German military.
SHAN: Yes, I will follow the guidelines from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
CHEN: (with emphasis) Consul General, you now directly report to me, Republic of China's ambassador to Germany, your new boss. Follow my orders. This is important for Chinese-German relations.
SHAN: (notices Chen’s tone) I will do my best.
CHEN: Then very well, and I will arrange to transfer some of your staff to other consulates. Goodbye. (Hangs up, phone call ends.)
Silence for a few seconds. Shan not sure what to say.
9 | Advice
Same time and location. Enter Burg.
BURG: Dr. Ho
SHAN: Hello, Dr. Burg. How may I help you?
BURG: There's something I would like to ask you about the current events. Could we talk?
SHAN: Sure, please have a seat. And would you like a drink?
BURG: No thanks. I asked the Czech and Polish consul to help me better understand the current situation, and they told me that the invasion of Austria has left the Wehrmacht crippled because of mishaps and would not expand further. What do you think?
SHAN: Do you believe them?
SHAN: The Nazi’s next objective will undoubtedly be Czechoslovakia. It won't be long now. If they do not meet resistance there, Poland's turn cannot be avoided.
BURG: Then… what should I do?
SHAN: Sell your factories as soon as possible, and move to England or North America.
BURG: … that will be challenging. (Beat.) But ok, I will do that. (Gets up.) Thank you.
SHAN: You are welcome. And again thank you very much for teaching Monto. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.
Burg nods and exits. Shan also exits. Lights out.
For St. Lynda
who died on All Souls’ Day 2016
By Steven Gomez
And in the end, your voice was almost gone;
That voice which, from the front, had opened gates
And led us into courts of praise and thanks
Was now an autumn leaf, brittle and crackling.
To know your voice at all was blessed gift;
For you, the words “He saves” were more than words.
You held out your own voice into my dark,
Said simple words: “Be fixed”—and it was so.
Your voice could carry faith, make mountains shift,
And carried chemo’s cross until you broke.
The voice that sung me into glory now sings
For Glory alone, and I will try to not be jealous,
If only at my end it can be your voice
That greets me at the gate and points me true.
Solution to Last Week’s Crossword
Crossword by Embolus
7. Athenian container captures brief moment (5)
8. Car crash involved donkey and no-one will believe her (9)
10. Greek constituted a Roman law with hesitation (9)
12. Players’ throw? (4)
13. Lion tamer nailed performance (6)
14. Duke in play made Tess more upset (8)
15. Reactor’s core legislative proposal (3)
17. Old Testament greeting for tragic hero (7)
19. Indian settlement for incomplete purpose (3)
23. Villain travelled on horseback? Right, I go too. (8)
25. Prerequisite actions for Midsummer Night’s Dream? (6)
27. Pretender who we never imprisoned? (4)
28. Hero’s plaything in morning? No, not at first. (9)
29. Monarch dressed in paler coat (9)
31. Antonio, Romeo, Iago, Edmund and Leontes started in this spirit (5)
1. Creedal cradle’s pleasant listening device, reportedly (6)
2. Princess departed, right? I left afterwards. (7)
3. Have half a laugh? (2)
4. Gandhi’s retreat from brash ramifications? (6)
5. Incursion is not rescheduled for mythical mount (7)
6. Duke cast adrift is able to thrive on nothing (8)
9. Village allowed poor actor to precede (6)
11. Doctors amend dose for heroine… (9)
13. … and cracked nuclear code (3)
16. Organic unit contains memory with leader of Republic (8)
18. Punishment for girl who let boy in? (6)
20. Bottom is an idiot in classic? (3)
21. Get together again concerning marriage (7)
22. Much Ado About Nothing has this chap, who many years was entertained by Grease. (7)
24. Seer with elevated vision by the sound of it? (6)
26. Tender care given by god to the German pimp. (6)
30. Deity managed anonymously (2)