“In the final analysis, the question of why bad things happen to good people translates itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it has happened”. –Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People
“A central reason for joining a faith community is to find a place to feel safe, exposing our flaws and uncovering our pain. We seek a place where people will “walk through the nettles” with us, where we can drop all pretense and admit that when we fully enter into life, we also fully enter into loss.” -Carol Galginaitis
Last week, we experienced the horrific loss of Malcolm Wildszewski. This loss came on top of the many losses we are experiencing because of COVID-19.
I’ve been asking myself, what can we do, as a faith community, to tend to our communal grief in a time when we can’t be physically together. The answer is simple and not easy to do virtually. We need to express our feelings and to take care of each other. Being caring people is one way we are Unitarian Universalists every day. It is how we grow and strengthen love in our congregation. Only this love can begin to soothe us.
One piece of advice the UUA’s Trauma Response Team gave to staff and leaders is that we need to gather and express all our feelings of loss. If we, as a congregation, don’t talk about loss, the grief gets deeper and deeper and doesn’t go away in the “system” of the congregation. Your “job” right now for the health of UUCWC is to not ignore feelings of loss but to experience your grief.
Grieving is how we put the world back together again. It is how we strengthen ourselves in a time when there is very little security but also beauty and love.
I hope we can grieve together for all the losses we are experiencing. In small groups, in breakout rooms, on the phone with each other and in cards sent to the Wildszewski family and others. Let us extend care and love to others, create beauty, and express thanks.
We can also grieve alone whenever grief shows up. I’m finding solace in a morning practice of music, poetry, and a form of doodling that is prayer. When I don’t have words to express the losses around me, these art forms are healing.
In times like these I ask myself, “How do people survive without a church?” I don’t know. I am so thankful that we have each other to walk through the nettles with and grow our love together.