Saturday, February 19, 2011

A caring community eases sorrow

Our family recently lost a beloved brother; a man who showed uncommon grace in the midst of ongoing challenge.
Our brother moved away from the community where he grew up over thirty years ago. Yet, he remained connected with the place and people of his upbringing, and his funeral was held here in the town where he grew up.
His connection with others was evident in the expressions of sympathy that we received from friends. The concern that we received from our faith community was an expression of love. We felt comforted and cared for.
When dealing with the death of someone we love, the experience of being connected with a larger community helps to ease the sorrow. Funerals, memorial services and celebrations of life are fundamental to the grieving process. Each provides a healing opportunity for family and friends.

Alan D. Wolfelt, a noted grief counselor, outlines six important aspects of funeral ceremonies that help us to accept death and to recover from grief.
  • First, ceremonies help us to acknowledge the reality of the death. Even though we know in our head that someone has died, the funeral helps us to feel that death in our hearts.
  • Second, funerals enable us to express our pain in a culturally acceptable way. It is okay to weep at a funeral, but it is awkward for everyone if we break down on the street weeks later.
  • Third, funerals encourage us to share our memories. When we share memories, we affirm the value of the person who has died. We see the person’s life in a new light because we learn who the person was for others.
  • Fourth, funerals help us make sense of a new self-identity. Those most affected by a death often remark, “I felt like a part of me died, too.” We need to acknowledge that we change when someone we love dies. The community shares in this acknowledgment and supports us through the transition.
  • Fifth, funerals remind us of our mortality. We are all going to die. The reality of death helps us search the meaning of life. Funerals are a way to express our beliefs and values about life and death.
  • Sixth, funerals are where mourners gather. At funerals, the community offers its support and the bereaved accept the support of the community. The exchange of support is one of the most healing aspects of funeral ceremonies.

John Donne, in his famous meditation on death, wrote that “no man is an island entire of itself; everyman is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” When someone dies, a part of the mainland is washed away. Donne goes on to say that “any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.”
Funerals, memorial services and celebrations of life demonstrate not only our regard for the deceased; they remind us of our common humanity. The many expressions of sympathy that we extend in times of sorrow are signs of love that comfort and heal, and communicate the interconnectedness of life.


Thursday, February 17, 2011


A warm welcome to  Faith Coloured Glasses the official blog of Louise McEwan.

Faith Coloured Glasses is a blog that looks at daily life through the eyes of faith.

In the ordinary experiences of daily life, we encounter the presence and activity of the divine. We grow in knowledge of God, self, and others. Faith, personal relationships and community life are all connected.

Blog postings will relate the stuff of ordinary life to faith and how we choose to conduct ourselves. I hope that you will find postings relevant and thought provoking.

Some postings will focus on the spiritual life, while others will comment on current events. Always, we will look through faith coloured glasses.

In this blog, you will find my newspaper column. From time to time, I will also post some of my other writings.

Occasionally I will post links to other blogs that I find inspiring.  You might like this one,

Look for new postings on a bi-weekly basis.

I hope that you will join our discussion!