Monday, April 30, 2012

Grief and Loss part II

Tuesday morning a caring group of people gathered to listen to Linda Cliff,  discuss grief and loss from the perspective of a hospice nurse.
Some of the key points raised were:
 "Grief as a Life Journey."  
  Grief is a process and we never "get over it."  We will move on.  We will find a new normal
                                  for our lives.  But the  loss we've experienced
                                  is always there and may be  triggered at
                                  unexpected moments. 
                                  This is normal.  This is life. 

"Grief is Complex"
             While the Kubler-Ross model of denial, anger, bargaining,
             depression and acceptance is useful, it is not the only way
             grief is experienced.  All of these stages may occur in one
            day, some may be skipped altogether and they may be
            experienced out of order.  This is normal.  Grief is complex.

"Grief is a process of transforming a relationship , rather than detaching from it."
             As Christians we know that death is not the end. Life is
             eternal.  Love is eternal, but death makes the expression
             of that love different.  It takes time and patience to come
             to terms with that transformed relationship.

"Anticipatory Grief"        
             Sometimes there is a long period of grief that occurs before
             a death.  During that time, people will experience some or
            all of the usual aspects of grief that occur after death.
            Sometimes this makes the bereavement time easier. 
            Sometimes it doesn't.  Each person's grief is individual.

"Multiple Losses"
               Sometimes it feels as though one loss is piled on top of
               another.  The loss of a loved one may necessitate the loss
               of a beloved home.  Deteriorating health may result in loss
              of independence, loss of association.  Financial reverses
              may cause a dramatic shift in life-style.  Grief over these
              losses is natural and normal. 

            As though bereavement and grief were not hard enough,
            often we add  a layer of guilt to ourselves.  I should have
            done better."  "I should have been more patient."  "I should
            have said 'I'm sorry'."  When these thoughts intrude, try to
            be kind to yourself.  Talk to a supportive friend.  Dwell on
            what you did well.
            You did make the important telephone calls.  You did spend
           days at the hospital or bedside.  You did carry out the final

            Grief hurts.  It is natural to shy away from a grieving person,
            but our presence is one of the greatest gifts we can offer
            our hurting friends.  Listen while they talk.  Invite them to
            tell stories of the departed.  Be willing to hear the same
            story over and over.  Call.  It takes a monumental effort for
            a grieving person to reach out, but they need to hear from
            you.  Make the call.  Go out for coffee.  Take a walk
            together.  Be there.  Another's grief may trigger your own.
            You may cry.  Call anyway.  Call again.

Thanks to Linda for sharing her experience and her knowledge with kindness and compassion.

Editor's Note:  Reference material is from "Medical Care of the Dying," 4th Edition edited by G. Michael Downing, MD and Wendy Wainwright, MEd.  Published by Victoria Hospice Society Learning Centre for Palliative Care
Victoria Hospice has a wealth of materials available which can be downloaded from their website. Go to

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grief and Loss

by Edna Kirk

This group was started a few years ago when a number of the congregation, who had been recently widowed, got together to share their grief.  The group met monthly and on a few occasions had Joy Hunter, Chaplain at Saanich Peninsula Hospital, come to speak.  these meetings were open to anyone and Joy, in her own quiet way, encouraged participation and pent-up feelings would come pouring out from folk who didn't always realize they had bottled up so much .  There is no doubt it was a healing process.  Gradually the group found that monthly meetings were not necessary.  It isn't always helpful to keep going over the same hurting feelings -- one has to move on.  More recently we have met a few times a year for a pot luck lunch at the home of one of our members.  We find this a good way to keep in touch and we find out what has been happening in our lives and how we have been learning new coping skills.
  Newly bereaved members of the congregation are helped with phone calls, visits and sometimes just going out for a meal.  They are given materials to encourage them.  The books, Journeying Through Grief, by Kenneth C. Haugk are particularly helpful.  The leaders of the group always make themselves available to offer a listening ear at any time.
   The next meeting of this group is Tuesday, April 24 in the Ross Lounge.  Linda Cliff, a retired hospice nurse will give a talk, "Grief 101."  She will cover the many stages of grief as well as discuss the different kinds of grief, such as grief for loss of health or a major life change.  Anticipatory grief and delayed grief are often unrecognized but have profound effects on a person's well being.
     The meeting is from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and all are welcome.

Monday, April 16, 2012

World Day of Prayer

  Report from Elizabeth Small

The World Day of Prayer service was held at SPPC on March2, 2012.  This year, it came from Malaysia. 

   The Sidney area had the opportunity to learn more about this country and its unique culture and heritage.  At the same time we joined Christians in more than 10 countries around the world and 2000 communities across Canada who gathered to pray.

   The planning committee was made up of representatives from eight congregations in this area.  The denominations involved were Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, United and Seventh Day Adventist.  The service was written for all people by women of various denominations from Malaysia, and we were encouraged through their words to reflect on their culture, people and religions.  The theme chosen for this year was "Let Justice Prevail."
   The service convener was Elizabeth Small with assistance from co-convener, Edna Kirk.  The welcome was read by Bin-Sie Soh.  Our speaker was Rev. Ruth McCowan and Michael Denton and the choir of SPPC provided the music.

     Bin-Sie is from Malaysia and she led us in the introduction and greetings using their language to say Selamat Datang, meaning peace and welcome.  She displayed several items of Malaysian clothing, some of which had been worn by her mother.  Family photos and other memorabilia from Malaysia were on display, these were supplied by another one of our congregation whose son is married to a woman from Malaysia.
      Rev. Ruth McCowan, spoke on how women were treated in Biblical times and brought us through the years to the present time, pointing out that in many countries women on their own still live in very difficult circumstances.

        Before the service began, we played music from the CD "2012 Malaysia" then, during the offertory the choir sang the theme song, "Let Justice Prevail," written for this worship service.

         In all, 87 people attended and $754.48 was received in offerings.  Participating congregations were St. Paul's United, Peace Lutheran, St. Andrew's Anglican, Resthaven Seventh Day Adventist, Holy Trinity Anglican, St. John's United, St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic and SPPC.

    As for any event hosted by this congregation, there was a reception, featuring mouth-watering goodies, in the hall following the service.

   The World Day of Prayer 2012 was dedicated to the Glory of God.  A permanent record will go on file at St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church.

Editor's Note:  Elizabeth's prayers were answered even before the day of the service.  Mary Hampson had worked with her for many years to organize this service, but Mary was unable to participate in 2012.  While Elizabeth was still pondering her options, Edna Kirk stepped forward to fill the gap.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012

A sunrise service where we actually saw the sun.

We Sang

A bird hummed along

We posed for the annual Easter picture

We came to the church for breakfast

Served by ladies in Easter bonnets

We filled the cross with daffodils

We shouted "He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed, Hallelujah"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hospital Worship Service

     Last Sunday, SPPC took its turn at providing a worship service at Saanich Peninsula Hospital.
      Saan Pen hospital is a dearly loved institution in our community.  Countless people, including many from our congregation, volunteer hours and hours of service there, from running the library cart, to visiting in extended care to working in the gift shop.  As a church, we offer our unique worship service on a Sunday afternoon, every couple of months.  Other Sunday services are conducted by other churches from the peninsula.
   I don't know what happens at other services, but the one conducted by SPPC features lots and lots of music.  Old time favourites sung with gusto.   There is an adage on my wall that says "where words fail, music speaks."  The old hymns we sing at Saan Pen touch a well-spring in minds and bodies that often cannot respond to anything else. 
    One would think, that in a place where folk are nearing the end of their earthly life, hymns about death would be depressing, yet when we swing into "When the Roll is Called up Yonder" I see smiles and toe tapping.  "Blessed Assurance" is just that, assurance, a "foretaste of glory divine," and I wonder if there are old sailors in the group for "Will Your Anchor Hold" is a great favourite.   We have scripture too, prayers, and a short sermon, -- no collection, -- yet the music is what resonates most.   
     If you've ever considered hospital visiting, but weren't sure, come along to our next worship service, May 27, 2:30pm. in the the new chapel.  You'll find it cheerful and moving.