Written by: Loretta Jaunzarins, Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Hamilton and Life-Cycle Celebrant

The recent death of a member of Grace prompted me to write this blog. I am often asked by the spouse or children of the deceased loved one when they should disperse of their loved one’s possessions.

These are not easy decisions. I find that in this situation people are either driven by fear or guided by wisdom. Fear looks like this: everything is disposed of immediately or, possessions are kept for years keeping a person from moving on with their life.  It’s easy to see how fear can grip and dominate a person to do either.

Guidance by wisdom looks like this: your inner self will nudge you when it’s time to start this ritual. And it is a ritual for each item represents the love you had for this person and who they were as an individual. If you are in touch with your inner self, you will recognize the nudge to start going through your loved one’s clothing, for example, and you will respond to the nudge. It will be emotional for sure, but your inner strength, faith, friends or family members, will be there to cradle you as you sort, distribute or save an item. Don’t be afraid to keep those items that your inner self is guiding you to keep. To make it a ritual, set aside a time when you aren’t rushed, hold each item, visit the memories that go with it, rest in those memories, say good-bye and let it go.

Being guided by wisdom and responding to the nudges you will receive will help you process your grief and heal emotionally and spiritually. Never set a time goal for healing grief. That doesn’t work. But set the goal to journey through grief recognizing grief as the healer it can be when we suffer loss whether a loved one, our health or a cherished belonging such as the home we have lived in for decades.

For years now our society has hidden dying and death from view and few have experience with it. We’ve done the same when it comes to expressing the emotions that accompany death, loss and grief. This has been to our detriment. Fortunately, more and more people want to embrace dying and death as part of the circle of life. Embracing dying and death as part of our human experience is a good thing because it happens to all of us. We can either face it gripped by fear or start now to plan to die well and grieve well the loss of all that has meant the most to us.

Remember, you don’t walk alone. We walk together. If you feel stuck, reach out by telling someone you trust so that you can begin the journey through grief to healing and renewal.