Light in the Darkness

"What can I do?" is a question pondered by people trying to reach out lovingly to a grieving friend. We are so often paralyzed and unsure of what is the "right thing" to do when someone we know loses a loved one.

Society is not comfortable with death. Grieving people find this out quickly. Our whole world plunges into darkness and few people come searching for us with flashlights. Foreign feelings, thoughts, and behaviors can create a terrifying experience. "Normal" ceases to be.

A key to healing is to know the elements of the grieving process, to know there are universal experiences. The gift of a book can bring some light in the darkness to the person who is mourning the death of a loved one. Suddenly, there is a connection: "Someone else has felt this way—maybe I’m not going crazy."

Any good bookstore will have a myriad of books on death, dying, and grief. Because some people find it hard to focus during the initial stages of grief, intellectual books can leave such people re-reading the same line. Personal stories written in lay vocabulary with short chapters are more readable during a time of struggle.

A Journey Through Grief, by Alla Renee Bozarth, is a 51-page book that, as its subtitle states, is "gentle, specific help to get you through the most difficult stages of grieving." Bozarth has suffered losses herself, including the sudden death of her husband when he was 37 years old. She writes about the feelings without going into the details of the stages of grief. "As the natural anesthesia of the heart wears off" one wonders "where is the merciful numbness now?" She examines the numerous emotions that bombard people who grieve. She invites us into the pain: "Paradoxically, the way past the pain is to go all the way through it."

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Sojourners Magazine June 1994
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