The Art of Presence – New York Times Article

This is another great article about helping those who grieve. There can never be enough written about “how to help.”

I thought the point made that it’s important to realize that some people may be firefighters and some may be builders was interesting:

Do be a builder. The Woodiwisses distinguish between firefighters and builders. Firefighters drop everything and arrive at the moment of crisis. Builders are there for years and years, walking alongside as the victims live out in the world. Very few people are capable of performing both roles.

My hope and prayer is that bereaved parents have enough kind, caring people in their lives who are capable of performing both roles for the long haul. It’s so important.

Link to article:

© 2014 Rebecca R. Carney


9 thoughts on “The Art of Presence – New York Times Article

  1. In the NY Times article: “Theology is a grounding in ultimate hope, not a formula book to explain away each individual event.”

    Because our culture is so productive and formula driven (even influencing many church cultures), the grieving are experience everything from abandonment, rejection, and disillusionment. This only compounds the pain.

      • We had the firefighters, too. So very thankful.

        But if a person loses a leg in an accident, there is more than the initial emergency. There is ongoing treatment and/or therapy. And if you are in a church, it’s disappointing to find that the people there are not willing to go the extra mile. And it’s not like I expected anyone to sit and hold my hand for months or years on end. The biggest problem I faced was people expecting me to be the same person I was. “Don’t get stuck in grief”. “Why can’t you come to church even though your husband doesn’t?” I could go on an on. The message I was getting is, “What’s your problem? You’re victorious!” etc.

        The problem? My heart is broken in half and it’s hemorrhaging. You see the symptoms, but you choose to avoid and ignore them.

        And then you feel guilty because you think you’re focusing on the negative and not understanding and/or sympathizing with people who don’t mean any harm – they just don’t understand grief. So you then have to become the bigger person which puts more on your plate!.

        There was no one to give me permission to feel anything and everything – except, God. And that is my message. Because when it’s all said and done, there really is someone who not only understands, but is holding you up from drowning in the dark abyss of losing a child.

        I’d like to add you to my “blog roll”. I hope we can make a difference.

  2. In nursing school I learned grief is a necessary process. It is something to do as well as feel, hard work taking years.The practitioner’s place is to listen and reflect, assisting expression of grief, encouraging the work of grief.

    I’ve found practicing presence with the grieving difficult when they are uncertain of eternal issues. Their tendency is to hide, ignore and repress. I would like to hear how others have successfuly practised a gentle, persistent presence with these grieving ones.

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